Tell us a bit about the museum and its aims.
Politismos Museum of Greek History brings the museum experience into your home. With a 21st century online format, Politismos gives visitors the chance to explore Greek history and culture, from antiquity to modernity, from the comfort of their computer, tablet and even their smartphone. Our mission is to inform, engage and inspire people about the history, culture and influence of Greece and its people.Politismos grew out of a collaboration between colleagues in the US and Greece. The website and program series are curated by historians, academics, artists and writers who are experts in their fields. Additionally, Politismos publishes an online magazine, produced by a team of young professionals in Greece, which offers an insider’s look into arts, culture and more in Greece. Politismos is a U.S.A. registered 501c3 non profit organization.
What was it that first drove you to create Politismos?
While the goal is to one day have a physical museum in Sacramento, California, the idea of an online museum allowed us to start sharing information now, and start building an audience as well.
There is, and has always been, an enduring spirit in Greece, there is creativity, there is talent, and there is ingenuity. And that is happening TODAY, not just 5000 or 2000 years ago. There are so many important stories to share, and we want to share them with everyone. The people involved in this project, we think that it would be fantastic if there were a Greek history museum in every major city in the world, telling not only the stories of antiquity, but the stories and accomplishments of the Byzantine and Modern Greeks as well.
Are there any parts of Politismos that would be of particular interest to people who are moving to Greece? Which sections would you advise them to look at?
Politismos, overall, can be a very useful tool to anyone moving to Greece. As Politismos e-magazine offers an insider’s look at what’s happening in Greece, from arts and culture to travel destinations, it will definitely be of interest. Moreover the events agenda included in the magazine shares details on various exhibits, arts and culture events happening not only in Greece, but also around the world. There is a lot of information on the site that lets people learn about the country, its people, and their accomplishments. We also have stories and exhibitions for children available in both Greek and English, which is a great tool for if they are working on their language skills. Actually, the entire site is in Greek and English so it’s great for all ages and learning levels!
In your opinion, why is it so important for expats to have an understanding of the history of the country they're moving to?
In general, learning about the history of a country helps people understand its present status. History is the legacy of each nation, passed on from generation to generation. Before moving to a country, expats who take the time to have a greater understanding of their new country’s history are more likely to have a better understanding of its people’s mentality and culture. This could help them decide whether the country they plan to move to suits their own mentality and way of living.
The history of Greece is rich and is definitely worth being explored by people who either plan to move there or just pay a visit. It’s a worthwhile lesson for everyone.
Why should expats choose Greece as a place to live?
Thanos: It’s no coincidence that the that gods of mythology chose Greece as their home country. This place brings together everything you may be looking for to be happy. Even now, in this time of crisis, Greeks have sustained an amazing “smile,” a key element in harmonious relationships amongst people! Hundreds of islands, the unique sunshine and blue waters of our country, and the remarkable spirit and hospitality of the Greek people – it’s a recipe for happiness! We invite you to come and live your myth in Greece!
What's your personal favourite exhibition that you've run so far?
Thanos: One of my favorite exhibitions is “Crisis is a Greek word”. 50 graphic designers have been asked to present in their own unique manner their perception about Crisis. Both their creations along with the captions are interesting and moving. Moreover, a members’ exhibition among my favorites is “Lupimaris: Wolves of the Sea”. It is a photographic documentary about the fishermen of Paros that successfully depicts the life of the Greek fishermen.
Despina: For me, my favorite has been the “OXI” Day exhibit which is about the Greco-Italian War (1941) and Greece’s entry into WWII. The victory of Greece on October 28, 1941 stunned so many and really re-invigorated the spirit of the Allied Forces. This little country that everyone underestimated played a huge role in turning the course of WWII. We also have a members’ exhibit, “The Greek War Relief Association” which details the Greek-American response to OXI Day and their efforts to raise tens of millions of dollars to send much needed aid to Greece after the country was occupied by Axis Forces.
What's your favourite article in the magazine so far?
I think we both agree that it’s hard to choose a favorite! We’ve got features on places to visit in Greece, as well as other sections of interest – theatre, culture, artist interviews, health, children and Greek gastronomy and more.
You also have plans to open a physical Politismos museum in Sacramento, CA. How's that going? When can we expect to see it?
Well, we only just launched the online museum on October 28, 2015 and we know that it will take us a few years before we see a physical space in our future. But in the meantime, we intend to host pop-up exhibits and continue with our online museum as well. This year, we are also adding an online lecture series to the Politismos program slate. We were talking about hosting lectures locally, but we’ve had such wonderful response to the site that we wanted to continue the effort to share information on a global platform.
Finally, when you're not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Thanos: First of all, I consider myself very lucky to have been born and raised in Greece. It is a country that offers a variety of leisure time activities. Taking advantage of the country’s magnificent landscape, I like to go on mountain bike adventures, hiking or trekking. Moreover, thanks to the Mediterranean climate of Greece, I have the chance to go spear fishing all year long.
Despina: I love reading, yoga, nature hikes, going to the theatre and museums… and visiting Greece! I consider myself really lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of California and Greece. And I love talking about Greek history.
Despina M. Kreatsoulas and Thanos Chinis are Co-Founders of Politismos Museum of Greek History. Despina is based in Sacramento, California. Her father was born and raised in Chios, Greece; she is a native Californian. Thanos is in Athens, Greece; Thanos is a native Greek.