homepage / news 2024 / Exhibition “Refugees on Crete after the Asia Minor Disaster”

Exhibition “Refugees on Crete after the Asia Minor Disaster”


Refugees on Crete after the Asia Minor Disaster

A major exhibition on refugees,
to mark the Year of Asia Minor Hellenism,
has started its journey across Crete from Heraklion



“People didn’t talk about it. They didn’t want to recount the terrible events they experienced. Perhaps it was to exorcise the evil?  Or because they believed that they might return one day?”

“The church of Panagitsa [in Heraklion] was built as the result of mutual assistance. In effect, the former inhabitants of Vourla built this church to commemorate the Virgin Vourliotissa that was burned down in Vourla.”

“All these people were mostly farmers. They had vineyards, they produced sultanas, they grew tobacco, they had olive trees and their vegetable gardens.”

(Excerpts from accounts by people of second- and third-generation refugee origin)


Address by the President of the Society of Cretan Historical Studies and the Historical Museum of Crete, Professor Alexis Kalokerinos, at the inauguration of the exhibition in Heraklion

The efforts of the refugees from the Asia Minor Disaster to preserve their identity and their collective memory, the vicissitudes of their integration into local society, and their contribution to the shaping of that society, are presented in the Exhibition held from 4 January to 10 February 2023 at St Mark’s Basilica in Heraklion. The Exhibition was inaugurated on the afternoon of Thursday 5 January, with addresses by His Eminence the Archbishop of Crete Eugenios, the Regional Governor of Crete Mr Stavros Arnaoutakis, the Mayor of Heraklion Mr Vassilis Lambrinos and the President of the SCHS Professor Alexis Kalokerinos.



The Exhibition is the outcome of the “Refugees and Refugee populations on Crete from the Interwar Period to the Present Day” research project carried out by the SCHS via the Historical Museum of Crete and funded by the Region of Crete, to mark the centenary of the Asia Minor Disaster and the arrival of the first refugees on the island.


The Exhibition was created by the SCHS team of ten young researchers together with the researchers and staff of the Vikelaia Municipal Library. The project manager is the SCHS President Professor Alexis Kalokerinos, while the general curator is the Head Curator of the Historical Museum of Crete Agisilaos Kaloutsakis.


The Exhibition combines text and image in physical space with digital information in the form of QR codes for mobile devices, modelled on the highly successful hybrid exhibition on the contribution of Crete to the Greek Revolution of 1821, organised last year in the major cities of Crete by the SCHS and the Region of Crete.

The Exhibition “Refugees on Crete after the Asia Minor Disaster” at St Mark’s Basilica is accompanied by video presentations and audio excerpts of interviews by descendants of refugees, collected as part of the SCHS research project. Phrases and excerpts from these interviews formed the basis of a musical work by Odysseas Grammatikakis, commissioned by the SCHS, which is also heard in a specially arranged niche in the Basilica.


The Exhibition is based on archival documents and objects from the Collections and Library of the Historical Museum of Crete and the Vikelaia Municipal Library of Heraklion.
The documentation work was assisted by the Associations of descendants of the refugees, people of second- and third-generation refugee origin.



The Exhibition  ran from 4 January to 10 February. During this time, educational tours were provided to school and other groups by the exhibition staff, who are scientific collaborators of the SCHS.


After St Mark’s Basilica in Heraklion, the Exhibition will travel to the Centre for Mediterranean Architecture in Chania, where it will remain from 18 April to 12 May 2023.

Exhibition “Refugees on Crete after the Asia Minor Disaster”

First Location of Exhibition
St Mark’s Basilica [Heraklion] | 4 February - 10 February 2023


Next Location of Exhibition
The Centre for Mediterranean Architecture [Chania] | 18 April - 12 May 2023




(+30) 2810 283219 / 288708 (ext. 101 – Secretariat, Historical Museum of Crete)