A new direction: The Hellenic Museum rebirth

“It is not enough to simply have 20 pots, arranged to display,” Hellenic Museum CEO John Tatoulis says.
Taking the reins of the prized Hellenic Museum, the new CEO is looking towards harnessing lost potential in the museum and turning heads.
“If you put them (the pots) into context you can tell a story about them. All of a sudden they take on a new life and become relevant. And really, that is what I am trying to do and to use multimedia as a way of doing that,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
Gearing up for the launch of a large exhibition on the 60th anniversary of Assisted Migration in Australia, the Hellenic Museum is hoping to bring some of the biggest crowds through its doors.
This week marks the launch of two new exhibitions exploring migration and a free concert in honour of the anniversary, with special guest Maria Farantouri and Yiannis Kotsiras taking to the stage on Sunday.
One of the exhibitions, “Through a Child’s Eyes” focuses on 13 high profile Greek born Australians and their story. It’s a fascinating look into the Australian lifestyle of Greeks living in the ’60s and ’70s, a time where Greeks suffered a lot of racism while trying to accept their adoptive country. The exhibition will run for six months.
But that’s not all. A long running project has the former director and producer particularly excited.
Tatoulis has used his expertise to produce a documentary on the levels of Greek migration to Australia from the 1800’s to now. Tomorrow it will be available for everyone to see.
“We are producing a documentary that would be on permanent display, and played at a theatre we are preparing,” he explains.
“I will be directing it and it comprises archival material, material we are filming, and it will be really a snapshot of the Greek settlement in Australia.”
The documentary will be split into four sections and follow a multilayered narrative of why Greeks travelled, what they did in Australia and what they’ve achieved.
Tatoulis is even considering a fifth element, on the future of Greek settlement.
“In a strange way there is a fifth way of potential migration, with disenfranchised very highly educated Greeks, looking for a better opportunity not just in Australia but all over the world, but particularly in Australia,” he says.
The infrastructure of the project means that it will provide room for more audiovisual aspects of the museum’s collection. Expect to see images of Greece from above and other interesting forays into the visual medium.
With an injection of funding from the State Government, the Museum is able to approach ideas previously out of bounds.
Tatoulis says “there are at least five more exhibitions that we are looking into”.
Future exhibitions will also get the treatment they deserve. The museum is looking into transforming material online and wants to see exhibition content travelling the world.
“Nothing will be done and discarded. This is all about building exhibitions, building our archives,” Tatoulis says.
What he believes will set the museum apart from other, more dry options out there ,is getting the seal of approval from their toughest critics, children.
“At the moment it is very hard to attract kids, they come through but it is very passive, from November onward we will make it exciting for them and we are working on creating educational packs with the teachers.
“They are the audience; I mean if you make it relevant to the kids, then the kids will bring their parents.”
Moving away from the historical aspects kids might role their eyes at, Tatoulis is working on a graffiti exhibition inviting Athenian graffiti artists to Australia, getting them to draw a feature wall. Also on the books, the museum is looking into the portrayal of Greek heroes in graphic novels, sure to get the kids excited.
This holistic approach will bring new audiences, not just the expected Greek Australians through the doors and is what the new Tatoulis direction is resting on.
The Hellenic Museum will present the following programs open to the public on Sunday 25 November.
Through a Child’s Eyes: an audio visual exhibition examining the lives of those who came to Australia as children during the period of mass assisted migration post 1952.
Antipodean Odyssey: an audio visual exhibition outlining a timeline of Greek settlement in Australia from the early 1800’s till now.
‘Diaspora’ Concert: 2:00 pm, Hellenic Museum Carpark. Guest stars Maria Farantouri and Yiannis Kotsiras will be presenting the Ta Paratragouda song cycle and will also perform some of their favourite songs.
Melbourne’s very own Christos Ioannides and Anthea Sidiropoulos will be presenting their own compositions of songs inspired by migration as well as a tribute to the late Costas Tsikaderis whose work also focused on this theme.