The 1821 Revolution before, then and after

Anniversary exhibition at the Benaki casts light on both well- and lesser-known aspects of the Greek War of Independence




You return to the ground floor with a mind swirling with information, images and musings, thinking that after cramming 60 years of history onto the first floor, there can’t be anymore. But the Benaki’s “1821 Before and After” is a museum in a museum, a show of monumental proportions covering every inch of exhibition space at the institution’s Pireos Street annex.


Centered on the history of the Greek War of Independence, it explores its broader context and ramifications, starting with the Orlov revolt in 1770. It goes on to unfold roughly a century of historical events, military campaigns and developments in culture, the arts, the letters and ideas, thanks to the Benaki’s impressive collection of archival material and art, and generous contributions from three major banks and collectors.

By the time you leave the first floor, the revolution is over, the foundations have been laid for the new Greek state and its first governor has been assassinated. What comes next? The exhibition’s most powerful chapter: The After.

“What do we really know about the period from 1832 to 1880? Very little, in fact: Otto, King George I and Bavarian rule; it is a period we normally take a negat