Being Greek-American is not what it’s cracked up to be. You are torn between the country you were you were born and the country were your family came from. In America you’re not called the “all American boy/girl” and in Greece you are not put in the group like the rest of the Greeks. This is why Greeks in other countries try to build their own community to feel like they belong somewhere and people can relate with each other.
However, Greek-Americans, whether they live in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Australia, Canada or Germany, they always find a way to mark their territory. Either building Greek restaurants or introducing Greek cuisine to other countries or just building museums filled with history and culture, Greeks always find a way to bring home to them.
The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, Illinois is doing just that. Executive director Stephanie Vlahaki says, “The story we tell is very much the immigrant story and the individual story in search of opportunity, in search of home.” The museum was designed by Demetrios Stavrianos, who is also the principal in the Chicago office of RTKL firm. Located in the Historic Greek town in Chicago, the museum holds displays of old Greek folk costumes, old icons of various saints, statues of Ancient Greeks hero’s and the last thing of all their roof is like an Ancient Greek garden with statues of Ancient Greek hero’s which at night they light up along with the rest of the city. “The National Hellenic Museum will tell the story of how Ancient Greece laid the foundation for Western civilization and contributed to building America,” Vlahaki says.
Their exhibits include “The Oral Tradition,” which is a display of Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” bringing to life the Trojan War and the adventures of Odysseus. Other exhibits include “Culture and Community: The History of the Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago,” which is a display of how religion has helped bring the Greek community together. “Gods, Myths and Mortals” is an exhibit, which opens December 10th, 2011 that will give visitors a chance to meet the 12 Gods of Olympus, see what daily life was like in Ancient Greece and have a chance to interact with poems such as “The Iliad “ and “The Odyssey”.