[Zoi Leoudaki]: The exhibition “Heaven and Earth” brings the art of Byzantium from the 4th to the 15th century to the National Gallery in Washington. [Panos Panagiotopoulos]: This exhibition is a very important, I would say unique, event. We’re talking about 180 exhibits, of which 100 are leaving Greek borders for the first time to go abroad. They are antiquities from the Byzantine period that showcase the element of religious worship as well as urban life in Byzantium. [Zoi Leoudaki]: The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Greece, the Benaki Museum, and 13 other Greek museums. Already, within a month here in Washington, 30,000 people have visited the exhibition. [Susan Arenberg]: Byzantine art is very important for European painting, especially in the later Gothic period and that of the Renaissance. [Zoi Leoudaki]: Byzantine art is unknown in America. Many Americans believe that after the fall of the Roman Empire there was a barren period, a Middle Ages without significant artistic work until the emergence of the Renaissance. The exhibition “Heaven and Earth” refutes these beliefs. [Susan Arenberg]: Painting in the West during the Middle Ages was in decline, but the knowledge of how to mix pigments, how to paint a figure so that it appears voluminous thrived in Byzantium. [Zoi Leoudaki]: The exhibition is small but comprehensive with some very important works, such as the marble head of Aphrodite, a 1st-century work from the Acropolis that marks the transition from Paganism to Christianity. A double-sided icon from Kastoria. On one side appears the Virgin Mary the Guide, and on the other, Jesus Crucified. The icon is known as the sorrow of the God-man, which later inspired Handel in the oratorio Messiah. Susan Arenberg traveled to various regions of Greece and made a documentary about the Churches to introduce the American public to the architecture of the Byzantine Church. [Susan Arenberg]: Entering a Byzantine church is a unique experience. The exterior may be very simple and does not prepare you for the interior, which is dazzling. [Zoi Leoudaki]: The designers of the exhibition in the hall of the national gallery tried to achieve this sensation, reproducing the interior of the Holy Luke. The exhibition focuses on objects of daily use, rare jewels, a large collection of gold coins. The art of Byzantium has fascinated critics in the United States. The New York Times described it as disarmingly impressive. The Washington Post would like more exhibits in the exhibition to make Byzantine art more accessible to a Western audience. While the art magazine Apollo describes it as a landmark exhibition that unites ancient Greek tradition with the Renaissance. After Washington, the “Heaven and Earth” exhibition is due to be transferred to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Zoi Leoudaki, Voice of America, Washington.