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'Icons: Refugees Heirlooms' at the Musee d’histoire de Nantes


The exhibition which opened on July 2 at the Musee d’histoire de Nantes, was organized in partnership with the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, and offers a chance to discover the exceptional objects from the Refugee Treasures exhibition presented in 2009 in Athens, and a selection of items conserved in France that will be presented for the first time.

'Icons: Refugees Heirlooms' at the Musee d’histoire de Nantes
Refugees in the streets of Athens, photographed by the American Red Cross, in 1923 
[Credit: ©Library of Congress]
On July 24th 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, ending the war between Greece and Turkey that began in 1919. It is considered to be the last peace treaty of WWI and has been judged by some to be the only guarantee of lasting peace between Greece and Turkey. For others, it was a violation of Human Rights.

The treaty imposed the exchange of civil populations and defined the terms of forced migration on both sides of the Aegean Sea. 1.3 million Greeks and 400,000 Muslims were forced to leave their homes, leaving their belongings behind.

'Icons: Refugees Heirlooms' at the Musee d’histoire de Nantes
Icon of Saint Catherine. Late 17th century [Credit: Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens]
At the moment of their exile, many of the Greek men and women of Asia Minor left with their religious icons, or those from their churches. These precious, sacred, or protective objects established a link between an old and a new country, between an old and a new life.

Today, some icons in France act as a testament of a migration extending far beyond Greece’s borders.

'Icons: Refugees Heirlooms' at the Musee d’histoire de Nantes
Silver revetment of icon depicting St. George killing the Dragon. From a Smyrna workshop, 1878 
[Credit: Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athen]
Each one tells a story.

Exhibition curator: Kiriaki Tsesmeloglou, member of the Icon Network association, restorer and conservator of painted works.

The exhibition will run through November 13, 2016.

Source: Musee d’histoire de Nantes [July 08, 2016]
TANN

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