Politismos Museum of Greek History is a digital museum that brings the history, culture and influence of Greece and its people to your home.
Greece’s enduring spirit, culture, art, and talent have captivated the world for centuries, and continue to this day. The new Politismos Museum of Greek History is an online initiative that not only puts a Greek museum in every corner of the world, but also showcases the best of Greece — past, present, and future. We had the opportunity to catch up with Co-founder Despina M. Kreatsoulas to talk about this exciting endeavor.
The origins of Politismos Museum
The seeds for Politismos were planted when Despina was a child. She said it all began when she first donned a Greek costume to dance at the local Greek festival — she’s been “talking about Greek history and culture non-stop ever since”. She earned a BA in Hellenic Studies and an MA in Public History, and has worked with many Greek organizations over the last 30 years.
Back in 2006, when Despina worked on a Greek Macedonian Costume exhibit at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), she began to consider the possibilities. The idea was there, but it wasn’t until 2014 when she again teamed up with CSUS on a WWI exhibit, that things began to take shape.
“That’s when it changed from just an idea to something that really needed to be put into action. I started talking with some colleagues and the idea began to grow.”
The goal is to one day create a physical museum in Sacramento, however, the idea to take the concept to the internet, allowed them to start now, build a following, and reach a wider audience.
“My co-founder, Thanos Chinis, and I began to ponder the possibilities of what an Internet presence would allow us, and it just took off from there. He suggested the name, which means, culture or civilization, and the logo. The design represents several things: the spiral of Archimedes, the Phaistos Disk, and it’s also a design that’s found throughout nature.”
Online museum: a new concept with wide reach
Since Greece has given so much to the world, Despina believes that every city should have a Greek museum, but until then, this 21st century format is a step forward. The internet is the perfect medium to bring Greek history and culture to the world.
“It deserves that global audience. Greece has creativity, talent, ingenuity. And that is happening TODAY, not just 5000 or 2000 years ago. We must tell the stories of antiquity, but also the stories and accomplishments of the Byzantine and Modern Greeks as well.
Their mission is to inform, engage, and inspire people about the history, culture, and influence of Greece. It’s a collaboration between colleagues in the US and Greece, including historians, academics, artists, and writers — all experts in their fields. The Board of Directors are fascinating individuals in their own right, and also bring much to the table.
Politismos Museum of Greek History launched on October 28, 2015, OXI Day. They chose this historic day, because it is revered by Greeks, and always commemorated. A launch event in Sacramento celebrated the occasion, and included artifacts from their WWII collection.
By the very nature of a virtual effort, Politismos is able to tap into worldwide talent and expertise. Co-founder Thanos, and a small team of writers are based in Greece.
“We have an incredibly bright and enthusiastic group of young professionals who provide great insight in our monthly magazine, about arts, culture, society, gastronomy, and more, that’s happening in Greece. The magazine is produced in Greece to give voice to these talented young people, to share insight into their country. It also gives them professional work experience, and that can sometimes be difficult to find in Greece today.”
To showcase international talent, Politismos brings in curators specific to an exhibit. Current exhibits have been curated by Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection, the CSUS Hellenic Studies Department, renowned artist and iconographer Dr. George Kordis, Su Surrus, and photographer Christian Stemper.
New exhibits will be released several times a year. Current exhibits include “Athenian Owls”, “Lupimaris – Wolves of the Sea”, “Kordis: Dialog with Greek Literature Engonopoulos”, and more. New exhibits will post in April. There are free and members-only exhibits.
Simply click to view the interactive exhibits. With imagery plus descriptive content presented in an easy-to-follow and concise way, the stories come to life. Click on “+” signs throughout, for more details.
“Crisis is a Greek Word” is a fascinating global initiative to describe Greece in the times of crisis. 50 Greek visual communication designers participated, to convey a message of creativity to the world. In two parts, the exhibition reveals powerful and moving messages, and unveils a wealth of talent.
Politismos for the Classroom
This important initiative is designed to take the effort into the classroom, presenting a “living history” experience. A curriculum is being created for different grade levels, and will soon be piloted at the Rocklin Family Academy of Schools. This partnership will help Politismos ensure that the curriculum meets and exceeds standards. Docents are graduate students from the Department of Public History at CSUS. The goal is to bring history and culture to life, and make it easy to understand, and fun for kids. They hope to develop the program to be licensed for use in classrooms across the country.
“Give Back” program
This program is a way for Politismos to “pay it forward.” When people support Politismos, they can then support other worthy programs. Currently, they’re supporting the works of Greek non-profit Desmos, and donating $15 from each membership purchased using code DESMOS16, to the organization.
Get involved, spread the word
Politismos is just getting started. There’s so much more to come. Support Politismos as they promote Hellenism on a global scale. Visit the site. Experience the exhibits. Check out Politismos for Children (good resources for teachers!), the eboutique, and the magazine. Spread the word. Become a member. Share your ideas. Share your history.
“We all have some interesting artifact or piece of history handed down. You can now share it with us digitally (and keep it in your family).”