Athens Museum Hosts Scent-Based Antiquity Exhibition

‘The Countless Aspects of Beauty’ exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens
‘The Countless Aspects of Beauty’ exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens | © National Archaeological Museum of Athens

When thinking about how to celebrate antiquity in a new exhibition, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens came up with an unlikely new offer: scent.

The new exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum was launched at the end of May 2018 to mark its 150th anniversary. In spite of its long history and fascinating permanent collection, it remains one of the more underrated places to visit and is often overshadowed by its flashier, modern sister, the Acropolis Museum. This new exhibition, in partnership with Greek beauty brand Korres, has the potential to change that.

Drawing on the rich natural aromas of ancient Greece, the museum has created a new exhibition dedicated to Ancient Greek beauty with scent as a core highlight. Working from information recorded about Aphrodite’s beauty habits, the museum and Korres worked to recreate the goddess’ perfume and aromas.

Helped in part by the work of Ancient Greek pharmacist Dioskourides, their research led them to use rose, coriander and sage as the base notes of the aroma, and ingredients were sourced from across Greece. The result is the scent of a truly historical collaboration.

This highlight offers an exciting crescendo to a four-part display. The exhibition is divided into themes that encompass ‘Eternal aesthetics’, ‘The beautiful and the desirable’, ‘Focusing on the Body’ and ‘The endless quest’.

‘The Countless Aspects of Beauty’ exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Each section invites visitors to understand further the nuances of ancient beauty regimes and approaches while also examining the transcendent aspects of beauty that are as relevant today as thousands of years ago. With almost 350 artefacts on display, the results are fascinating.

Throughout the course of the exhibition, the museum will offer workshops and talks by a range of individuals from across the scientific and creative spheres. The aim of these events is to further bring to life the techniques and craftsmanship that contributed to the creation of some of the most beautiful objects left over from Ancient Greek civilisation.

Indeed, the key to the exhibition is the examination of beauty as it relates to taste and aesthetics, beyond the individual’s look. One need only to look at the intricate embroidery of Mycenaean costumes, how colourful ancient Greek sculptures were, the ornateness of jewellery and colourful ceramics to understand that upholding standards of beauty was paramount in Ancient Greek civilisation.

The beauty of Greece has long inspired creatives from around the world, and this new exhibition at the Archaeological Museum allows audiences to look inwards at the long legacy of beauty in Greece, rather than simply showing how the country has inspired others.

Afterwards, one need only walk through the trendy restaurants and bars of Exarchia and towards Lycabettus Hill or through Omonia Square towards the Acropolis to appreciate the value that beauty continues to have in Greece today.

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