Masters of Olympus. Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin

For the first time in North America!

They’re not eternal—they’re immortal! Their names are known by one and all: Zeus, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Hera, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Dionysus, Hermes, Hades, and Asclepius... From April 23, 2014, to March 15, 2015, Québec City’s Musée de la civilisation will pay tribute to them in a remarkable exhibition, Masters of Olympus: Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin. Over 160 masterpieces—statues, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, amulets—from the Berlin State Museums’ vast Classical Antiquities collection will be on display for the first time in North America. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Berlin Antiquity Museum.

“The Masters of Olympus: Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin exhibition is an invitation to discover a captivating mythological world through artifacts from the Berlin Antiquity Museum, home to one of the world’s most prestigious collections of Greco-Roman art. Staff from the museum generously shared their knowledge and expertise and played a key partner role in the production of our exhibition,” said Musées de la civilisation executive director Michel Côté. “This exhibition is completely in line with the cultural mission of Musées de la civilization, a place of wonder and knowledge where visitors come to understand the world and develop their references. Just like our exhibitions on Rome and Paris, Masters of Olympus explores founding elements of our societies that still resonate with us today,” added Côté.

Meeting with the Gods of Olympus
Like mirrors of the human soul, the Greek and Roman gods have complex relationships, with each deity having a specific role to play. In addition to interacting with each other, these god and goddesses maintain rather special relationships with mortals, even while ruling over the religious world. They live surrounded by mythology, institutions, and rituals dedicated to their glory in the various sanctuaries and gardens of Rome. Under their watchful gaze, the arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, theater (associated with Dionysus), and others flourish and grow. All these divinities have helped pave the way for knowledge and democracy.

Rare and Exceptional Collections
The artifacts presented in the exhibition all come from the Greco-Roman Collections of the Berlin Antiquity Museum (Antikensammlung Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), which boasts one of the biggest, most prestigious collections of Greco-Roman art. The collection is known the world over for its singular historic, cultural, and artistic value. Among the one-of-a-kind treasures on display are a sculpture of the head of the “Dresden Zeus” (2nd century A.D., based on an original Greek model dating back to circa 440 to 420 B.C.), a neck amphora decorated with a scene of Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar (6th century B.C.), the torso of a statue of the goddess Artemis (150 A.D., based on an original dating back to 320 B.C.), a bronze statuette of the god Apollo (1st century B.C.), and a marble relief depicting winged Victory sacrificing a bull (1st century B.C.). The exhibition also presents a variety of other wondrous objects, from jewels to ceramics, vases, amulets and more.

For the Masters of Olympus: Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin exhibition, Musées de la civilisation elected to support the restoration of rare and important works mainly because of the deeply symbolic sacrifice this represents. The Museum carefully restored two reliefs dating back to the early Roman Imperial Period: the relief of winged Victory sacrificing a bull and the relief of one of the Dioskouri heroes (either Castor or Pollux).

A Guided Tour with Homer and Hesiod
As they make their way through the exhibition, visitors are introduced to each of the masters of Olympus along with their powers and roles, as well as the cult of Dionysus, sanctuaries and offerings, rites and festivities, and, of course, the gardens of Rome.

Using audioguides, visitors can explore the exhibition with the help of poets Homer and Hesiod, who will offer their own unique insight into the history of Ancient Greece. Through the poets’ astute comments and witty exchanges, visitors will learn all about the fascinating world of these gods who claimed supreme power and took up residence atop Mount Olympus.

Bringing the Theme to Life with Multimedia
In addition to audioguide commentary by Homer and Hesiod, visitors can enjoy a wide range of other multimedia experiences. The immersive environments are designed to spark their curiosity while providing a good overview of this extensive subject. One of the key presentation components is the impressive starry sky above, a blend of projections and lighting that fills the heavens with birds, clouds, and violent thunderbolts—accompanied by sound effects of rustling wind and singing birds.

An Evocative Design: A Gradual Ascension to Mount Olympus
The exhibition’s evocative design showcases the remarkable objects from the collection in the framework of three primary elements: heaven, earth, and water. A gently sloping platform traverses the large gallery, giving visitors the impression they are slowly climbing Mount Olympus to see where the gods and goddesses once lived. The distinctly contemporary setting, designed by Daniel Castonguay and Caroline Lajoie of the firm Bisson et associés, offers a real sense of place... the open skies, the sea, the sundrenched landscapes—and Mount Olympus. There are even tall cypress trees like those that graced the lives of the ancient Greeks.

Beyond the Exhibition
In parallel with the Masters of Olympus: Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin exhibition, the Museum will present a full lineup of related summer programming, as well as a variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the year. A room for these activities will be set up next to the exhibition space.

The Museum, in collaboration with Beaux Arts magazine, will publish a book featuring contributions by well-known experts. The work will be distributed nationally and internationally, in both French and English.

Masters of Olympus: Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin, a must-see exhibition presented at Québec City’s Musée de la civilisation, April 23, 2014, to March 15, 2015. Presented in collaboration with the Berlin Antiquity Museum. Alcoa is a partner in all Musée de la civilisation programming.

Designed and produced by Musées de la civilisation using pieces from the collections of the Berlin Antiquity Museum (Antikensammlung Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin). With the collaboration of Secrétariat à la Capitale-Nationale, Air Transat, Tourisme Québec, Québec City Tourism, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (official hotel), and the Le Soleil daily newspaper. We would also like to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage for its support through the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program.

To know more :
A magnificent special issue by Beaux-Arts édition and Musées de la civilisation
Behind the scenes album
Information document

Media relations:
Québec City – Serge Poulin, 418-528-2072; email:
Montréal – Rosemonde Gingras, 514-458-8355; email:

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