Celebrated Greek and Roman Antiquities Coming to WAG April 2015

The Greek and Roman gods and goddesses are coming to the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, Dionysus, Hera, Poseidon, Zeus, and many more will be here in April 2015 when the WAG presents Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin.

Announced today, this is the first major exhibition of classical antiquities in Winnipeg in over half a century. The WAG is one of only two venues in North America to present this exhibition of ancient Greek and Roman art dating from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century AD, through a partnership with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin State Museums), which holds one of the finest collections of ancient art in the world. Her Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and His Excellency Werner Franz Wnendt, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada, will serve as Honourary Patrons for the exhibition.

“Greco-Roman civilization is the birthplace of western architecture, politics, philosophy, theatre, sport, language, medicine, and so much more,” states Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “The WAG is always looking for ways to inform and engage the community, and this monumental exhibition does just that, enriching and inspiring through ancient art and history. The last time there was a major exhibition of classical antiquities in Winnipeg was in 1964 when The Treasures of Tutankhamun came to the WAG – and it was one of the most well-attended exhibitions in Canada at the time. When it comes to the most prestigious collections of classical art in the world, it doesn’t get much better than the Berlin State Museum.” 

“We’ve been planning this show for over a year, and the shipping logistics alone – such as the direct transatlantic air transport of life-size marble statues – have required the support of an international team of museum, conservation, and transport specialists from Germany and Canada. Fortunately, transportation costs are being supported by Pacific Art Services (PACART). For many of our visitors, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come face to face with a sculpture of Apollo, Venus, or Zeus that was made over two thousand years ago,” notes Borys.

Olympus will be presented from April 2015 to March 2016, and features over 160 works, including marble statues and reliefs, bronze statuettes, terracotta vases, and jewelry from the Berlin State Museum’s classical antiquities collection, drawn from the Altes Museum and the Pergamonmuseum. Rarely seen outside of Europe, the collection is one of the most significant antiquities holdings worldwide, known for its historic, cultural, and aesthetic merit. Originating in the 17th century with the Electors of Brandenburg, the antiquities collection was built over three centuries from archaeological excavations in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor from such sites as Olympia in 1845, Vulci in 1852, and Pergamon in 1878. The collection survived the Napoleonic Wars, two World Wars, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This is a unique opportunity to see an astonishing number of representations of Greek and Roman gods and other classical personalities in artworks of exceedingly high quality. Through the objects on display, visitors can comprehend that images of the divinities were transformed through time as their personalities acquired new meanings or interpretations.

Olympus explores the fascinating world of Greek and Roman mythology and religion, reflecting the universal preoccupation with creation, the nature of god and humankind, the afterlife, and other spiritual concerns. From the times of Homer and Hesiod, intriguing myths and legends have remained constant because of their beauty and power. A longstanding source of inspiration for the world, these stories have been renewed and interpreted with infinite variations, expressed in exciting and challenging new ways through literature, visual art, music, dance, and film.

Learning for all will be just one of the trademarks of this historic exhibition. The 10-month long Olympus run, which spans two school years, will enable the WAG to engage every grade level and support specific learning outcomes of Education and Advanced Learning Curriculum. There will be a special focus on 3rd and 8th Grade classes, since ancient cultures and societies of the past are directly addressed in these students’ social studies curricula.

Online learning resources for teachers will expand on particular aspects of Greco-Roman culture, including the visual arts, the pantheon of gods and goddesses, archaeology, and mythology in popular culture. WAG Studio courses and workshops in sculpture and terracotta vase-making and vase-painting will be offered, as well as a special series of monthly drop-in art-making sessions.

Partnerships with the Classics departments of the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg are also planned with possible collaborations taking place to host symposia, conferences, lecture series, and special courses for university students, faculty, and the general public.

For more information and to download press images, visit wag.ca/olympus.

To arrange interviews and for additional information, please contact:

Tammy Sawatzky
Public Relations Coordinator
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Catherine Maksymiuk
Manager, Media and Marketing
Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate – a lens and forum – helping people see and experience more through art. Playing a vital role in the community, engaging and enriching people of all ages and backgrounds through art and culture, the Winnipeg Art Gallery thrives as a creative, innovative, and accessible place for learning, discovery, and inspiration.



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