24.11.2012 - 31.03.2013

Words and Coins: From Ancient Greece to Byzantium

Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cologny – Geneva

The exhibition, titled "Les mots et les monnaies, de la Grèce ancienne à Byzance" was organized by the Fondation Martin Bodmer (Cologny – Geneva) in collaboration with the Benaki Museum, Athens, and included material from the KIKPE Coin Collection (which is on long-term loan to the Benaki Museum).

The aim of the exhibition is to present histories and messages through a selection of texts and coins. The language of the images on ancient and Medieval coins is a testimony to humanity’s past, an expression of visualized discourse with didactic content, as well as an instrument for transmitting the cultural heritage (a kind of translatio studii).

Furthermore, the potent numismatic iconography recalls myths, histories, convictions, traditions and events, which are sometimes described and illustrated also in manuscripts and incunabula.

Passed from hand to hand, coins, manuscripts and books are valuable vehicles transporting and preserving memory over the centuries, reminding us of the glory of ancient Greece and the grandeur of Rome and Byzantium. Moving beyond the exhibition’s title, its content encroaches temporally on the period from the Renaissance to the Modern Age, combining more recent perspectives with the world of Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The exhibition is structured in thirteen units:

  • Why Money?
  • The Legend of Alexander the Great
  • From Hand to Hand to Keep Memory Alive
  • Describing the World
  • The Cosmos
  • Gods and Myths
  • The World of Homer
  • In Search of Immortality
  • Christian Images
  • The Greek World Before and After Alexander
  • Rome
  • The New Rome
  • De viris illustribus

Organization of exhibition: Fondation Martin Bodmer, in collaboration with the Benaki Museum

Venue: Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cologny – Geneva, Switzerland

Duration: 24 November 2012 – 31 March 2013

Curator of exhibition: Vasiliki Penna in collaboration with Sylviane Messerli

Museographic study and application: Elisabeth Macheret

Editor of exhibition catalogue: Vasiliki Penna