Full Circle, The Olympic Heritage in Coins and Medals, a new exhibition at the Federal Reserve

For Immediate Release

Contact: Pamala Plummer-Wright 212 234-3130 ext. 231, wright@numismatics.org

Full Circle, The Olympic Heritage in Coins and Medals, a new exhibition organized by the American Numismatic Society will open to the public on October 20, 2003. The exhibition contains over 180 objects, which tell the history of the Olympic Games from its beginnings in the 8 th century BC to the present day.

Thanks to some extraordinary loans from a handful of ANS Members, visitors to the exhibition will be able to see a full range of remarkable Olympic material. On display are a number of artifacts from the ancient Games, including coins, vases, and athletic equipment. From the modern games, visitors will be able to see a set of winner’s and participation medals, including the rare 1896 winner’s medal. Also shown is a host of other material relating to the modern Games, such as posters, pins, and the first Olympic torch (from the 1936 Games). All these artifacts provide a unique and timely overview of the Olympic movement, both ancient and modern, as the Summer Games return to Greece in 2004.

The ancient Greeks celebrated the Games as part of a religious festival for Zeus in the sanctuary of Olympia. Initially the competition was only a single foot-race, but soon the long jump, wrestling, chariot racing and other sports were included. For nearly 1000 from their introduction in 776 BC, the Games played an important role in the sports-fixated culture of the Greco-Roman world. However, during the early Christian period the games faded from view along with other proscribed pagan ceremonies. In 1896, through the singular efforts of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the spirit of the Olympics was revived and the first modern Games took place in Athens, Greece. Although the 1896 Games were a ceremonial success, it would take several decades before the Olympics would garner world-wide attention. Shortly before he died on the eve of the Second World War, Baron de Coubertin was able to see his idea achieve the grand proportions he had dreamed of. For better or worse, the 1936 Berlin Games were the most elaborate, most expensive, and most ostentatious yet. In fact, they were the first truly modern Olympics, complete with a television broadcast.

Exhibition hours are 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday through Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty Street (wheelchair access provided from the Maiden Lane entrance). Admission is free. For a guided tour of the Federal Reserve Exhibits, you must make an appointment by calling 212-720-6130. For further information call the ANS at 212-234-3130.