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Cultural Memory: Repatriation of Greek cultural property and the role of the National Archaeological Museum

On Tuesday 26 April, the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) hosted Dr. Anna Vasiliki Karapanagiotou, Director of the National Archaeological Museum of Greece (NAM) as she presented a seminar at the Greek Centre’s Delphi Bank Mezzanine in which she outlined recent developments in the campaign for the Repatriation of Greek cultural property.


The presentation was organised on the eve of the launch of the Open Horizons exhibition at the Melbourne Museum which features a select collection from the NAM.

The Delphi Bank Mezzanine was buzzing with an enthusiastic audience keen on hearing Dr Karapanagiotou’s presentation and was at the same time many viewers from Australia as well as USA tuned in to watch the seminar online.

GCM Board Member Dr Spiridoula Demetriou introduced the speaker highlighting the incredible career achievements of Dr Karapanagiotou.

Dr Kapapanagioutou thanked the GCM for the warm welcome saying, “I was very delighted to receive an invitation from the GCM to talk about the Repatriation of Greek cultural property and role of the National Archaeological Museum and I accepted without hesitation”.

The Director of NAM spoke of Greek Government policy on the issue of cultural repatriation of artefacts such as the Horses of Saint Mark which were looted by Venice in the sack of Constantinople in 1204, then looted by Napoleonic forces from Venice in 1797 but repatriated to Italy in 1815 and interestingly despite what is popularly known, pointed to the success that the NAM has had in its campaign to date.

Dr Karapanagiotou also brought to light that origins of the debate about ownership of cultural artefacts from the early years. One of the examples was the steal of the Paladion by Odysseus and Diomedes with the thought that it if they stole it that would lead to the capture of Troy. The Director of NAM referred to the Medici Conspiracy book which exposes the latest version of the one of the oldest cons in the world: theft, smuggling and duplicitous dealing-all in the name of art.

It should be noted that the fascinating presentation can be viewed on demand at the GCM’s YouTube channel.

Cultural Programs Chair for the GCM Leo Vlahakis said “Whilst we all are very aware of the high profile campaign around the Parthenon Marbles, it was both interesting and encouraging to hear Dr Karapanagiotou explain the work that the NAM is doing in this most important issue for not just Greece and its cultural legacy, but for all societies who look to their history to help define their identities and seek restitution from the colonial grab of the last 500 years.”




After the Director of NAM finished her presentation, Mrs Varvara Ioannou, member of the community advisory group to the Melbourne Museum took the stand and stated in her closing speech: “ We would like to express our congratulations and gratitude to you, for your most inspiring and outstanding presentation and concluded, your knowledge and passion for this area are second to none and all of us here will remember your presentation for as long as we will live”.

Mrs Varvara Ioannou gifted a copy to Dr Karapanagiotou,of her recently published book with the tittle “Her Voice, Greek women and their friends”, a snapshot of our history of the women who were born in the second half of the 20th century.

Leonidas Vlahakis then joined President Papastergiadis, Dr Demetriou and Board Members Dr Bossinakis, A/Prof Marini Piripiris, Vicki Kyritsis, Dr Nick Dallas, Jeana Vithoulkas and Helen Hiotis in presenting Dr Karapanagiotou with a commemorative plaque to mark her visit and presentation.



Dr. Anna Vasiliki Karapanagiotou is an archaeologist and Director of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece (Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports). Born in Tripoli, Arcadia, she graduated from the American Pierce College of Athens. She studied History, Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Athens, continued postgraduate studies at the University of Munich, and then received a postgraduate degree in Classical Archaeology from the University of Athens. In 2002



Showing pieces from the National Archaeological Museum of Greece runs at the Melbourne Museum from 23 April to 14 August





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