National Hellenic Museum to Host Photo Exhibition on Refugee Crisis

The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago is hosting a new exhibition “Lives Afloat: The Greek Refugee Crisis through the Lens of Tasos Markou 2015-2017.”

Set to open on June 21, the exhibition portrays the hardships of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who landed on the Greek islands in those turbulent years, making the whole world speak about the Greek Refugee Crisis.

Photographer Tasos Markou has captured all the drama of men, women and children who were forced to leave their home countries. Most were fleeing war, violence or persecution., with more than one third of them escaping the Syrian Civil War.

Most of the stories were heartbreaking: Children who had lost their parents to war, separated families, people who knew nothing about their family members’ fate, refugees who managed to escape bombings and came close to be drowned in the Aegean…

For the Lives Afloat exhibition, the NHM exhibition team utilized evidence-based reports and data from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the photographs of .

The 35-year-old Markou was born in Larissa and studied photography at the Public Vocational Training Institute of Volos. In 2015, he traveled to the island of Lesvos to cover the refugee crisis. His photographs capture the above stories, the hazardous sea crossings, the living conditions in the refugee camps, the endless waiting for their documents, the difficulties of crossing Greece’s northern borders to the most affluent Northern and Central Europe.

The exhibition is divided in three parts: Arrivals, Waiting, and Borders, to better illustrate the experience through powerful photographs.

The Lives Afloat exhibition will open to the public on June 21, a day after World Refugee Day. On June 23rd the photographer will present a program at the Museum about his efforts to aid refugees in Greece. Throughout the coming year the exhibition will be supplemented with public programming, tours and guest speakers to help raise awareness about the crisis and the fate of refugees across history.

“It is so important for the National Hellenic Museum to be telling the story of the Greek Refugee Crisis with our own exhibition,” said Laura Calamos Nasir, Ph.D, National Hellenic Museum President.

“It is crucial for the National Hellenic Museum to address recent history and portray the effects the crisis has had on so many. Using photos to tell the real story of a crisis impacting the Greek community, and indeed millions of lives, we aim to encourage people to learn more by seeking good sources of information, to gain more perspective and to develop a greater understanding of what is happening in the world, whether in the past or in current events. Visitors are invited to consider ways to get involved by learning more about the impact of nonprofit organizations and how effectively they directly impact people’s lives,” the Museum’s President said further.

The Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center (HMCC) was established in Chicago in 1983, the HMCC moved to the city’s Greektown neighborhood in 2004 and opened its current location on 333 S. Halsted St. as the National Hellenic Museum in 2011.

The contemporary four-story building houses extensive collections, rotating exhibitions and classrooms. Three floors of galleries explore ancient and modern themes and provide multi-use spaces to host tours, public programs, and private events. The NHM boasts a rich repository of over 20,000 artifacts, photos, historic newspapers, books and an archive of more than 450 recorded histories.

The NHM Collections & Archives serve as a central repository of Greek American presence in the United States, now several generations strong. The Museum celebrates the multi-faceted Greek diaspora, immigrant journeys, and the breadth of the American experience.