After being closed for years, the beautiful Onassis Center has hit the ground running with a beautiful and scholarly exhibition, Cult Statue of Zeus Hypsistos 2nd century ADMosaic Panel with Theatrical Mask of Silenus, which is on view until June 18.
This exhibition includes rare and beautiful ancient artifacts from Mount Olympus and commissioned art installations, as well as gallery walks with philosopher Simon Critchley,
Presenting its first full spring season since renovating its gallery in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the Onassis Cultural Center NY will offer the public a major exhibition of ancient art, installations of contemporary art, and a variety of events and resources on site and online for people of all ages, during three months dedicated to the theme of Gods and Mortals. Mount Olympus, the peak known to the ancient world as the home of the Greek gods, will provide the real and symbolic locus for the wide-ranging program.
Anthony S. Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, said, “This major exhibition marks the reopening of the gallery spaces at the Onassis Cultural Center NY after three years of renovation. We are eager to welcome American and international visitors to our new space and ready to host a new series of art exhibitions. Following in the established tradition of the Onassis Cultural Center NY, our exhibition and other academic and cultural activities will continue to explore and present the Hellenic heritage to a wider audience.”
Amalia Cosmetatou, Executive Director of the Onassis Foundation (USA) and its Director of Cultural Affairs, said, “This spring we present a major exhibition of ancient art and public programs that draw inspiration from Greek mythology and bring the conversation to the present. We enter into a dialogue about ancient and contemporary art and ideas inspired by life in the ancient city of Dion and the natural environment of Mount Olympus, reflecting on the divine and the human condition, the eternal and the ephemeral. Offering programs for all ages, we provide a forum for creative, original thought about our Classical heritage and its relevance today.”
Exhibition: Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus
Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus explores the relationship between daily life in an ancient city built on the slopes of Mount Olympus and the mythological abode of the gods at the peak. Within an immersive setting, the exhibition features more than ninety artworks and artifacts—including mosaics, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, coins, glass, and implements—dating from the tenth century BCE to the fourth century CE. None of these objects have been seen before in the United States. Among the highlights are marble sculptures from Hellenistic and Roman times of deities including Zeus, Demeter and Aphrodite, decorative objects and implements dating back as far as 1,000 BCE and a visually stunning group of mosaic panels from the private Villa of Dionysus, newly restored with the support of the Onassis Foundation.
All exhibitions and events at the Onassis Cultural Center NY, 645 Fifth Avenue, are open to the public free of charge.
(To learn more about the Foundation and the Onassis Cultural Center NY, visit

Commenting on the exhibition, Dimitrios Pandermalis said, “During the past forty-five years of work at the site of the city of Dion, not only have we been able to locate ancient buildings and portable finds but also to chart the lives of many individuals throughout the centuries. The exhibition Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus aims to provide visitors with a sense of Dion through the presentation of some of the most significant finds, as well as to introduce the wonder of the natural environment that inspired the ancients to develop a sacred center on the foothills of Olympus.”
essays by Dimitrios Pandermalis on the history of ancient Dion and its excavations; Maria Katsakiori on Mount Olympus and its natural environment; Fritz Graf on Zeus Olympios and his cult in Greece; Richard P. Martin on divine family in the human landscape of Dion; Semeli Pingiatoglou on the cult of Demeter at Dion; Angelos Chaniotis on everyday life in Roman Dion; and Sophia Kremydi on the use of coinage in ancient Northern Greece.
Contemporary Art Commissions
On The Art Wall in the Olympic Tower atrium at 645 Fifth Avenue, the Onassis Cultural Center NY will present a commissioned video work by artist Maria Zervos titled My Half of the Sky, My Half of the Earth. The installation work combines images shot in the landscape of Mount Olympus with texts in which Zervos brings one of her own poems into dialogue with a work by the Hellenistic poet Telesilla. Exploring the ways in which modern people grapple with ancient ideals of perfection and immortality, My Half of the Sky, My Half of the Earth also provides a female counterweight to the power of Olympian Zeus in the gallery exhibition.
Throughout the spring season, the Onassis Cultural Center NY will also present two new sound installations specially commissioned from artist Kostas Ioannidis. Within the foyer of the gallery, the work In memory of, memory of, memory of reflects on how we put layers of meaning onto the past, using texts about the love of the nymph Echo for Narcissus by poets from Ovid to Yeats as translated into the extraordinary, centuries-old “language of the mountains”—a repertoire of whistles, still in use by mountain people, with a fully developed vocabulary. In the exhibition itself, O rocky voice, shall we in that great night rejoice? will frame the artifacts of the Dion exhibition with the natural soundscape of the mountain, while simulating a voyage through time and space that is inspired in part by W.B. Yeats’s poem “The Man and the Echo.”

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