In the spring of 2008, the General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism initiated public activities on a national level, entitled “Environment and Culture”, aiming to stimulate citizens’ sensitivity to the protection of the country’s cultural and natural resources. The importance and symbolism associated with the Tree of Life, from antiquity to the present day, constituted the main theme of all the cultural events that took place during 2008-2009, entitled “The Tree of Life in Four Seasons”.
Within the framework of this campaign, the Educational Programs and Communication Department undertook the organization and co-ordination of the cultural events and activities that took place in 117 archaeological sites, monuments and museums all over Greece on the 9th, 10th and 11th of May 2008. During the three-day celebration, 18.000 visitors, the general public and student community discovered the Tree of Life in museum showcases, archaeological sites, gardens and squares. Furthermore, they participated in tree-planting and excursions into the forest; they attended musical performances, films, storytelling and theatrical performances, one-day conferences, lectures, educational programs for students and for the disabled in addition to many more unique activities.
Following the first successful implementation of the campaign in 2008, the 2009 celebration took place in 123 archaeological sites, museums and monuments all over Greece. On the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of May, 40.000 visitors had the opportunity to participate in thematic educational activities and tours.
The culmination of this original and innovative effort has been the publication of an album under the same title, which is not only a commemorative volume of the actions of all the responsible services and organizations during the first two years, but also an act of communication with the general public. Looking through it, the reader is inspired by the wealth of Greek nature, as well as the Greek culture throughout the centuries. The scientific content and artistic quality of this publication justify the effort and stimulate further inspiration, action and cooperation concerning the promotion and preservation of Greece’s environmental and cultural heritage. The volume was distributed to all of the participating organizations, to university libraries and to the relevant organizations of the European Union Ministries of Culture. The public has access to the computerized version of the Greek and English publication through the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism website (Relevant Archives: The Tree of Life in four seasons).
The “Tree of Life” theme has been considered an ideal subject matter for the first materialization of the campaign, as the basic elements of nature are crystallized in a symbolic manner with the “Tree of Life” idea. The water dynamic makes the Tree grow and bear fruit, the earth supports and feeds it, the air provides it with the necessary oxygen to emerge above the ground and stand upright, while fire may affect irretrievably its cycle of life. Thus, the 2-year festivities have been dedicated to the theme of water, the first of the four elements.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, for the third consecutive year, announces a celebration of open museums and archaeological sites –where monuments coexist harmoniously with nature – entitled “Myriads water voices”. From Thursday to Sunday, October 7-10, 2010, archaeological sites, museums and monuments all over the country will open their gates to the public, organizing simultaneously a wide range of events, tours and educational activities that aim to attract attention to the importance of water and to its value in many aspects of people’s lives from antiquity to the present day. From a creative and wide-ranging examination of examples singled out from the country’s archaeological sites, monuments and museums, as well as on samples of modern practices, the public will be given the opportunity to reflect upon the positive and negative practices of the past in light of the present day discussion of problems concerning the management of seriously threatened water resources.
The General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage is responsible for the organization and coordination of the campaign, in which services and supervised organizations of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are involved.
For the duration of the festivities, the entrance to the public museums, monuments and archaeological sites participating in the campaign will be free to the public, and informative material will be distributed to the visitors.
By the opening day of the celebration, the website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be updated with lists of the sites, monuments and museums involved, as well as with regard to the variety of events scheduled for the four day period.
The campaign’s logo communicates the message of the Campaign. It depicts the leaf as a symbol of the environment with a continuing weaving line, which reminds one of an Ionic column head. Thus, the logo symbolizes the bond between cultural heritage and natural environment and underlines the classical growth of spirit and substance.