WAG Unveils Ancient Treasures with Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin

Winnipeg, Manitoba, April 24, 2015: Zeus, Venus, Athena, Hercules–the gods and heroes of Mount Olympus have arrived at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin opens at the WAG on Sunday, April 26.

Olympus is Manitoba's first major exhibition of classical antiquities in over half a century, presented under the honorary patronage of His Excellency Werner Franz Wnendt, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada; His Excellency Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Ambassador of the Italian Republic to Canada; His Excellency George Marcantonatos, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to Canada; and the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

This monumental exhibition transports visitors to the ancient world with over 160 Greek and Roman treasures dating from the seventh century BC to the second century AD. These extraordinary works representing the artistic triumphs of two ancient civilizations are on loan from the prestigious Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (Collection of Classical Antiquities of the National Museums in Berlin). In a historic partnership, the WAG and the Musées de la civilisation in Quebec are the first and only two venues in North America to present the prized collection.

Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin is a rare opportunity on the prairies for visitors to come face to face with one of the world’s most celebrated collections of Greek and Roman art,” states Dr. Stephen Borys, Project Manager and WAG Director & CEO. “The honorary patronage of three Ambassadors to Canada–representing Germany, Italy, and Greece–in addition to our Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, underlines the significance of this exhibition. Bringing to life two ancient civilizations, the works included in Olympus link directly to so much that has come to define the heartbeat of modern culture.”

Berlin’s Antikensammlung was assembled over three centuries and largely completed by 1900 after key archaeological excavations in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor at such sites as Olympia in 1775-81, Vulci in 1852, and Pergamon in 1878. From life-size marbles to incredibly fragile terracotta vases, the physical transportation of the artwork to Winnipeg was a huge undertaking involving couriers, conservators, preparators, designers, curators, and at all stages, the museum directors. Colleagues from the National Museums in Berlin oversaw the entire installation.

“An impressive selection of masterworks from our collection are now being shown for the very first time in North America, thanks to the partnership between the WAG and the Musées de la civilisation,” comments Prof. Dr. Michael Eissenhauer, Generaldirektor, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. “Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin clearly enhances the international exposure of the Antikensammlung, and has made it possible to restore some significant works included in the show.”

Manitoba’s last major antiquities show was in 1964 when the WAG presented The Treasures of Tutankhamun. Fifty years later, WAG galleries have been completely transformed with a breathtaking rotunda, striking architectural features, exciting viewports, and a Roman garden to best showcase the collection, which was made possible by many generous exhibition sponsors and partners.

“Cholakis Dental Group is proud to support Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin as the Title Sponsor,” states Dr. Ernest Cholakis of Cholakis Dental Group. “Olympus represents more than just priceless artwork; it reminds us that a society fuelled with creativity, inquiry, and energy can still resonate many centuries later.”

Thanks to Presenting Sponsor Border Glass & Aluminum, the National Museums in Berlin’s treasures are being protected by the finest glass cases available.

Manitoba students who visit Olympus will have the invaluable opportunity to study ancient civilizations. The exhibition engages early, middle, and senior years, supporting specific learning outcomes in Manitoba curricula. Programming includes weekend seminars, a lecture series, and film nights, all free to the public. The learning continues online with a weekly blog with contributions by University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg professors and students, and beyond.

Visitors will experience the free audio tour in English and French, an exciting series of viewports for kids and adults, as well as Shop Olympus, an exclusive exhibition boutique. Special rates are available for groups of 10 visitors and more. The show has inspired an incredible lineup of events for all ages, which can be viewed at olympus.wag.ca. Visitors are invited to pick up a free Olympus Passport to earn points for every visit!

Exhibition Partners: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and Musées de la civilisation.

Title Sponsor Cholakis Dental Group; Presenting Sponsor Border Glass & Aluminum; Supported by Government of Canada/Avec l’appui du governement du Canada; Major Sponsors Anonymous Donor, Johnston Group; Benefactor Sponsors The Winnipeg Foundation, Friesens Corporation; Patron Sponsors Minerva Painting & Decorating, Gillis Quarries; Premium Supporters Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, STORM Catering, Red River Cooperative Ltd., McCain Foundation, HUT K, Inn at The Forks, The Fort Garry Hotel, KPMG; Supporters The Embassy and Consulates of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada, Manitoba Public Insurance, Alpha Masonry Ltd., Banville & Jones Wine Co.; Media Sponsors Winnipeg Free Press, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, CBC Manitoba and Radio-Canada Manitoba (Audio Tour Sponsor/Partenaire parcours audio), CTV, Virgin 103.1, CJOB, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg, Winnipeg Airport Authority, Prairie Public Broadcasting, Classic 107; Creative Partners Doowah Design, Visual Lizard.

IImages for media are available for download. Please contact Publicrelations@wag.ca.

For Olympus news, events, and programming, visit olympus.wag.ca, and for the latest updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube #OlympusWPG.

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Catherine Maksymiuk
Manager, Media & Marketing
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Tammy Sawatzky
Public Relations Coordinator
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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