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Louvre Creates Greek-Inspired Exhibition for Paris Olympics

Breal's Cup, awarded to the first-place marathon winner at the first ever modern Olympics, will be on display at the Louvre in Paris.
Breal’s Cup, awarded to the first-place marathon winner at the first ever modern Olympics, will be on display at the Louvre in Paris. Credit: FocalPoint. CC BY-4.0/Wikimedia Commons/FocalPoint

In anticipation of the 2024 Paris Olympics, the Louvre Museum has curated a new exhibition titled “Olympism: Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy”, which dives into the rich history of the Olympic Games, including the influence of ancient Greece on them.

The Louvre’s Upcoming Exhibition for the Paris Olympics 2024

The upcoming exhibition is set to open on April 24, and will present a focus on the genesis of the modern Olympic Games, shedding light on France’s significant role in their establishment, especially in Paris.

“The exhibition firstly seeks to tell the unknown story of the creation of the modern Olympic Games and to highlight the role played by France, and Paris in particular. Many may know Pierre de Coubertin as the father of the modern Olympics, but “Olympism” will also spotlight lesser-known figures, like Dimitrios Vikelas, Michel Bréal and Spyridon Lambros,” a statement from the Louvre read.

It went on, “A highlight of the show will be the first Olympic Cup, known as “Bréal’s Cup,” designed by French academic Michel Bréal and given to the winner of the first marathon. The cup is on a special loan from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.”

Other items that will be displayed at the Louvre in Paris include ephemera, from the first Olympics, which took place in Athens in 1896.

Louvre Museum.
Louvre Museum. Credit: archer10 Dennis. CC BY-2.0/flickr

The Louvre’s statement said, “as part of the programme of cultural events accompanying the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, the exhibition will show how, in the name of sport, the disciplines of philology, history, art history and archaeology came together to create this global sporting event.”

“Olympism” has been curated by Alexandre Farnoux, Professor of Greek Archaeology and Art History at Sorbonne University; Violaine Jeammet, Senior Curator in the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Musee de Louvre; and Christina Mitsopoulou, Archaeologist at the University of Thessaly, French School of Athens.

In the lead up to the Olympics, the flagship Parisian museum is working to ready itself for the crowds of visitors expected. In January, it increased its basic ticket price from 17 euros to 22 euros.

According to the Art Newspaper, the 30 percent price hike “will help to subsidise free entry for certain individuals. Teachers of art history, visitors aged under 18 from the European Union, staff from the French Ministry of Culture and disabled visitors all qualify for free admission.”

The First Every Modern-Day Olympics

Athens was unanimously chosen to host the first ever international, modern-day Olympic Games during a congress organized by Coubertin in Paris, on June 23, 1894, during which the International Olympic Committee was also formed.

Olympic Second Place medal, Athens 1896.
Olympic Second Place medal, Athens 1896. Credit: Yoho2001. CC BY 3.0/Wikimedia Commons/Yoho2001

This decision went ahead because Greece was the birth place of the ancient Olympic Games.

The main venue in the 1896 games was the Panathenaic Stadium, where athletics and wrestling took place; other venues included the Neo Phaliron Velodrome for cycling and the Zappeion for fencing.

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