Olympism Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy


24 April – 16 September 2024


Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy

24 April – 16 September 2024

Among the cultural events designed to accompany the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris is an exhibition at the Louvre on the creation of the first modern Olympic Games. Visitors will discover how the Games came into being in the late 19th century: the political context of the time, the iconographic sources on which they were based, and how the organisers set out to recreate the sporting competitions of ancient Greece.

The exhibition sheds light on the origins of the world’s largest and most-watched sporting competition. This international event was the brainchild of Pierre de Coubertin and a number of French and Greek luminaries, who were later joined by Swiss draughtsman Émile Gilliéron (1850-1924). Gilliéron trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and was a frequent visitor to the Louvre, where he copied a number of its masterpieces. Having settled in Greece, he was named the official artist of the 1896 Olympic Games and of the 1906 Mesolympics, both held in Athens, for which he designed the winners’ trophies, inspired by discoveries made at the major archaeological excavation sites of the period. Using the latest reproduction techniques of his time, the artist illustrated communication materials – in particular postage stamps and posters – for the newly formed Greek state.

Thanks to a special loan from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the Louvre will exhibit the first Olympic Cup, known as ‘Bréal’s Cup’, designed by French academic Michel Bréal and created by a French silversmith for the winner of the first marathon – a race invented for the modern Olympic Games.

As part of the programme of cultural events accompanying the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the exhibition will show how the scientific disciplines of philology, history, art history and archaeology came together to create this global sporting event.

Exhibition Curators:

Alexandre Farnoux, Sorbonne University; Violaine Jeammet, Musée du Louvre and Christina Mitsopoulou, University of Thessaly and French School at Athens (Greece).


In order to ensure the most enjoyable experience for all of our visitors, group visits to the ‘Olympism. Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy’ exhibition are not permitted.

Acknowledgements :

Acknowledgements :
With the generous support of

Kinoshita Group and Natixis

Exhibition organised by the Musée du Louvre in partnership with

the École Française d’Athènes, and with a special loan from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Ce projet a été labélisé par

Paris 2024 dans le cadre de l’Olympiade Culturelle.

En partenariat média avec

 Le Parisien, Paris Match, L'Équipe, Connaissance des Arts et BFMTV.

Dossier pédagogique

L'Olympisme. Une invention moderne, un héritage antique

Dossier pédagogique

Download.pdf (2,0Mo)

Présentation d'exposition : « L'Olympisme : une invention moderne, un héritage antique »

Live ended


Selected works

  • Signé par Euphronios, peintre, Cratère en calice attique à figures rouges : lutte d’Héraklès et Antée. Vers 515-510 avant J.-C. Paris, musée du Louvre, département des Antiquités grecques, étrusques et romaines, G103

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