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National Hellenic Museum examines Illinois’ Phase 4 requirements for safe reopening

By on July 12, 2020

While the City of Chicago is expected to enter Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan between June 28 and July 1, allowing museums and other public spaces to reopen with limited capacities and other safety requirements, the National Hellenic Museum (NHM) determined it’s in the best interest of public safety to continue to offer access to collections and exhibitions online. Its building will remain closed at this time.

“In the best interest of our supporters, community and staff, we continue to look at Phase 4 guidelines which are applied to museums of various sizes throughout the state,” said Kristi Athas, on behalf of the NHM. “While we have a magnificent structure in the heart of Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood, the social distancing and capacity restrictions – which we fully support – pose challenges for our smaller space, requiring our continued consideration. We are excited to continue and expand our online options.”

Among those online options is the NHM’s Oral History Collection. The National Hellenic Society (NHS) has partnerned in the effort to gather and archive more stories of the Greek American experience, adding to the Collection. First-hand accounts and personal stories are critical to scholars, genealogists, communities and families. The goal is to grow the Collection through outreach to local communities and parishes representing more diverse experiences within the Greek story in America. It will provide young Greek Americans among NHS’s Heritage Greece alumni opportunities to both connect with Greek American history and have a hand in preserving the rich legacy they have inherited.

Also among the NHM’s newer virtual offerings is a collection of eight paintings by George Kokines, donated by Kokines’ daughter, Anne Miller, that are available for viewing on the NHM Collections Portal.

“One very real advantage of offering collections such as the Kokines paintings online is they can remain available for viewing even after an exhibit is rotated out of the Museum’s gallery,” said Athas.

In July NHM will launch its first ever online exhibition, Snapshots of Life: The Photograph Collection of George Phillos. This exhibition is built entirely around artifacts held in the NHM collection and highlights George Phillos, an early 20th-century Greek immigrant to the United States who took photographs over several decades and across the United States and Greece. The exhibition illuminates the experiences of early Greek immigrants to the United States on their journey toward becoming Americans and is built around the themes of “Military Service,” “Entrepreneurship,” and “Community.”

The Museum remains committed to its Greek Language Program and is pleased to share that students successfully completed the recent term online. NHM staff is using the summer months to plan for a fall virtual offering and will continue to monitor safety guidelines toward resuming on-site classes.

For more information, their website is nationalhellenicmuseum.org

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