15 Jan 2015

Classical Greek hero celebrated at Leeds City Museum

Picture caption (Top) - The 'Labours of Herakles' exhibition will open on Friday 23 January 2015. Picture credit: The Labours of Herakles, Marian

Picture caption (Bottom) - Lithographs and etchings by New Zealand artist Marian Maguire will feature in the exhibition. Picture credit: The Labours of Herakles, Marian

An exciting new exhibition celebrating one of Ancient Greeks’ most famous classical heroes is set to light up a popular Leeds museum next week.

The timeless Athenian tragedy of ‘Herakles’, will be explored through a series of fascinating lithographs and etchings by New Zealand artist Marian Maguire from Friday 23 January 2015 at Leeds City Museum. As part of the ‘Labours of Herakles’ display, the famous Euripides character, who is also known in the Roman world as ‘Hercules’, will be taken out of his ancient context and portrayed as a 19th century colonist in New Zealand by Marian, who is renowned for using the visual language of ancient Greek vase painting to examine the country’s history, and in-particular narratives concerning early European contact and colonisation. This is the first time that the collection has been shown anywhere in Europe, and in what is a great honour for the city, Leeds will be the first venue to host the exhibition as part of its European tour.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said:

“We are very excited by the opening of this exciting new exhibition at Leeds City Museum by artist Marian Maguire, which will explore and celebrate one of the most famous characters of an Athenian tragedy, ‘Herakles’.

“Included in Marian’s work will be a range of fantastic etchings and lithographs which, in an interesting twist, will tell the story of Herakles from the view a 19th century colonist in New Zealand.

“Accompanying the exhibition will also be a wide-ranging free events programme, which really is something not to be missed.”

Also featuring in the fascinating exhibition, which is supported by the University of Leeds and Creative New Zealand, will be pieces from Leeds’ Museums and Galleries collections of Maori objects and ancient Greek and Roman representations of Herakles.

A series of interesting events will also be accompanying the ‘Labours of Herakles’ exhibition, which closes on Sunday 15 March 2015. These include three special talks by a leading expert on Herakles, Dr Emma Stafford, alongside a series of family fun activities and workshops. All events are free, but some will require pre-booking. For more details regarding the full programme of events and how to book, please see the notes to editors section.

For more information about the exhibition, please visit www.leeds.gov.uk/Herakles with updates communicated using the #Herakles hashtag via Leeds Museums and Galleries’ social media accounts on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LeedsMuseums) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/LeedsMuseumsAndGalleries)

Notes to editors:

Programme of events:


Join Dr Emma Stafford, head of classics at the University of Leeds and a leading expert on Herakles, for an introduction to some of the context behind the artworks.

Tuesday 27 January - 2pm - Introducing Herakles

Tuesday 3 February - 2pm -Herakles the coloniser

Tuesday 10 March - 2pm - Herakles the politician

Adult themed events:

Mythical prints: Artist workshop

Sunday 8 February - 11am-1pm

Using simple tools and an etching press, design and make a dry-point print. Suitable for all levels of experience, or none! Booking essential, please call 0113 224 3726 or email: city.museum@leeds.gov.uk

Family events:

Twelve Labours of the Museum!

During opening hours

Endure challenges around the museum to test your strength and bravery.

Superheroes, Capes and Capers

Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 February.

10am-12pm /2pm-4pm.

Zoom over to the museum to dream up your own superhero or heroine.

We love Heroes & Heroines

Friday 20 February. 11am-3pm

Ready... Set... Whizz to the museum for a fun activity day with the heroes and heroines at the museum. Run in partnership and sponsored by The Grammar School at Leeds.

Leeds City Museum

Leeds City Museum is situated in one of Leeds' much loved civic buildings - the Leeds Institute building on Millennium Square. The Leeds Institute is one of the City's most important historic buildings and was completed in 1862 by Cuthbert Brodrick, who also built Leeds Town Hall and the Corn Exchange. From the middle of the last century until 2005 it also housed the Civic Theatre where amateur theatrical groups staged public performances. It has been home to the City Museum since 2008. The City Museum is the flagship site for the service, and is home to four floors of interactive and exciting galleries showcasing the story of Leeds, as well as the Leeds Mummy and our Designated Natural History collection. In 2013-14 we attracted over 320,000 visitors to our site.

Leeds City Museum is a free attraction located just up the steps on Millennium Square in Leeds city centre.

Admission free. Mondays closed (except bank holiday Mondays) -Please see website for opening times.


Millennium Square, Cookridge Street, Leeds, LS2 8BH.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team