NGA Shutdown Postpones Byzantine Art Exhibit


A Greek delegation, headed by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Minister of Culture and Sports Panos Panagiotopoulos, left Washington for Greece on October 4 disappointed that the 1st exhibition devoted to Byzantine art at the National Gallery of Art was cancelled.

As the Washington Times reported, the group traveled to D.C. to attend the formal National Gallery of Art inauguration of  “Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections,” on October 2. The exhibit was a display of 170 rare and important works, some recognized masterpieces drawn exclusively from Greek collections, many never lent before to the United States.

However, this week’s shutdown closed the National Gallery, and seems likely to postpone the opening of the exhibit to the public, scheduled for Sunday.

Panagiotopoulos “made the trip specifically, and has left without even seeing the exhibition as it was finally displayed,” said Zoe Kosmidou, the cultural counselor at the Greek Embassy. “You can understand what the feelings are,” she added.

A large group of scholars and officials who had flown over for the exhibition are still in Washington hoping for a quick resolution to the shutdown.

As Kosmidou stressed, “We are trying to overcome the feeling of disappointment and looking for the best way possible once the exhibition can be opened.”

The exhibit will be in place until March 2, which suggests that time is on its side. After Washington, the show goes to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.


  1. No such state as Byzantine has every existed. Our ancestors referenced their multi-ethnic state as simply Roman.

    This term “Byzantine” is a modern era term adopted by a historian of the Latin speaking Holy Roman Empire (to delegitimize any Greek claim to Roman imperial authority) In the middle ages, the Romans of Holy Roman empire claimed they were the “real” Romans whereas we were Greeks.

    On the other hand, today some of our detractors assure us the self-identifying Romans of the Holy Roman were actually not Romans but Germans, Austrians, Czech, Croatian, Slovenians, Swiss, Italira, Polish…. whereas we were “Byzantine”. (i.e. neither Greek or Romans) The “Byzantine” is even used as an insult in English. (which is especially hurtful given the Constantinople based Greek speaking Roman state was one of the most technically advanced regions in the world for most of the middle ages)

    In a similar fashion, those that claim the Slavs in FYROM as “ethnic Macedonians” today (as they turn into ancient Macedonians) claim the right to absolute self-identification for themselves… then go on to claim ancient Macedonians, founders of the Hellenistic period and self-identifying Hellenes… were not Greeks!

    In short, on thing you can be sure of my fellow Greeks, the Greek will be put down and mocked by petty bigots for our remarkable history.
    The only way around this hate is to make our country great again. Greatness doesn’t not come from giant made-in-Italy statues of Alexander or with hubris over accomplishments past generations. In must come through our own efforts and achievements.

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