National Hellenic Museum Achieves Record Growth in 2017


The National Hellenic Museum (NHM) today announced its 2017 achievements, including a 29 percent year-over-year increase in patrons served.

More than 21,000 people of all ages experienced the Museum through classes, field trips, tours and programs, and the NHM Collections of artifacts and recorded oral histories continued to grow.

“Our growth has come from a combination of education-based field trips and tours, a vast range of public programming and highly engaging community events,” said NHM President Laura Calamos, PhD.

Operationally, the NHM has been highly efficient, reporting that 81 cents of every dollar spent went to programming, an excellent ratio among non-profit organizations. In addition, most of the Museum’s annual major events continue to be designed to drive both its educational mission and its fundraising goals.

The renowned NHM Trial Series, for example, serves as one of the Museum’s most dynamic and stimulating events during which fine legal minds examine legal and moral questions that originated in Ancient Greece.

The event is so highly regarded that the NHM Trial of Antigone program aired on Chicago’s PBS affiliate and recently was nominated for a Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy. The 2018 NHM Trial Series event will be held March 1 and sponsorship opportunities are now available.

Additionally, in 2017, the NHM hosted more than 20 public programs with topics exploring the modern-day influence of Hellenism and democracy – such as ethics in medicine and science, and the refugee crisis – to presentations tied to ancient Greece, including new data about Mycenaean times drawn from excavations to research related to the genocide under the Ottoman Empire.

NHM Greek Language Program students perform a song in Greek at the NHM Greek Independence Day Program.
Photo Credit: Elios Photography 2017

Programming is often provided in collaboration with groups such as the Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC), the FilmHellenes and the Asia Minor Pontos Hellenic Research Center (AMPHRC) among other supportive partnerships.

The Museum continues to work with universities to provide dozens of internships as well as collaborating to bring highly regarded lecturers to the NHM.

One such program featured University of Cambridge Emeritus Professor of Comparative Philology, Geoff Horrocks, PhD, author of the book, Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers.

“I attended Geoff Horrocks’ University of Chicago lecture and came to the National Hellenic Museum to hear him again the next day,” said Jim Boves, a retired mathematician who remains active in his quest for knowledge.

“When I saw that Plato’s Allegory of the Cave was on the Museum’s program schedule later that week, I came back and brought friends,” said Boves, referencing the 2017 Dr. Arthur G. Nikelly Annual Lecture for the Preservation of Hellenic Heritage and Culture featuring Lewis R. Gordon, PhD, an internationally recognized expert in philosophy of existence, phenomenology, and social and political philosophy.

“Our programs draw people of all ages,” said Calamos, noting that the audience for the Nikelly Annual Lecture drew participants ages 15 to 81.

NHM Greek Language Program students dance before a packed room at the NHM Greek Independence Day Program.
Photo Credit: Elios Photography 2017

Beyond the numerous public lectures and family events held each year, the Museum offers an ongoing, expanded Greek Language Program accommodating all ages of children and adults, building skills from year to year.

“We have a robust Greek education program that goes beyond language to include dance and other core aspects of the Greek culture with an interactive style of teaching,” Calamos said.

“We’ve increased classes to twice a week to accommodate demand, and although currently at maximum capacity we are looking at ways to offer lifelong learning to more people beyond the walls of the Museum.”

In 2018, the NHM is setting its sights on digital expansion to further its position as a hub for the preservation of Greek American history and as an international center for learning. A major gift from a new donor in 2017 is seeding this effort, but additional support is needed.

“When you consider the origin of ‘museum’ – stemming from the Greek word mouseîon, which was a place sacred to the Muses and devoted to learning – our mission is clear,” said Calamos.

“Every day we take historical artifacts and stories of Greek American journeys and use them to teach the skills of critical inquiry through fun and interesting programming. We are so proud of our achievements in 2017 and look to the Greek American community to help us continue to accelerate the momentum in the new year and for the generations to come.”

Dr. Calamos shared, “The Museum is such an asset to the whole community and that is truly made possible through the support of the Greek American community over the years. We are so very grateful to those who have helped the Museum with their gifts of time, talent, financial contributions, endowments and grants that help us build quality programming for all. Every year the Museum gets stronger; 2018 will be an exciting next step. Stay tuned to help us grow!”