The Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW), which was envisioned, founded and funded by the family of Lazaros Efraimoglou, is a privately funded not-for-profit cultural institution based in Athens. Its foundation was ratified in 1993 by unanimous vote of the Hellenic Parliament.
FHW's mission is the preservation of Hellenic history and tradition, the creation of an awareness of the universal dimension of Hellenism and the promotion of its contribution to cultural evolution. Its aim is the understanding of the past as a point of reference for the formation of the present and future so that contemporary thought may once again be inspired by the Hellenic spirit. The principal objective is the dissemination of Hellenic culture and history in any way possible and through this the aim of the Foundation will be achieved.
FHW's innovative character has already been revealed in its Statutes, one of which prescribes that the materialization of the objectives be based on the possibilities offered by new technologies. As a result, from the very beginning and at the same time as trying to find a place for the creation of the cultural centre, the Foundation's administration put the Internet to use and presented to the Greek and international community the first Greek web sites of historical content. At the same time, it created a pioneering laboratory of three-dimensional reconstructions, the first project of which, presented as a documentary, received the 1st Prize at the Amiens Festival of Archaeological Films. This was only the beginning in a series of programmes that were enriched or designed later, in the two new premises owned by the Foundation.
Hellenic Cosmos, FHW's Cultural Centre, was inaugurated in 1998, originally occupying a site of 16,000m2. It was housed in a former industrial building, which albeit maintaining important elements of its original use, it was transformed into an ultra-modern, living museum that aims to be a source of learning and satisfy the needs of the contemporary "society of knowledge". It is located at 254 Pireos Street, on the former industrial axis joining Athens and Piraeus, where memory meets the city's modern identity. Today Hellenic Cosmos occupies an area of 65,000m2. The area is being continuously reshaped in order to cover the increasing needs of the Cultural Centre. Therefore, Building 7, which was inaugurated in 2004 and is a multifunctional cultural area that has hosted various events, from exhibitions and educational programmes to conferences and seminars, will be replaced by a new building improved both aesthetically and functionally. In March 2006 the construction of the “Tholos” was completed, a building that houses the most perfect, presently, Virtual Reality system of Hellenic Cosmos with a capacity of 130 people. It is a building of exceptional aesthetic value with unique technological infrastructure, which hosts the Foundation’s digital collections. The “Tholos” resembles a planetarium regarding its natural and morphological characteristics. But essentially their only common element is the semi-spherical shape of the projection surface. The external spherical shape corresponds to a swirling celestial body. This sensation is created by successive rings that surround its external shell and by the special lighting during the night. The shows are interactive and not static, creating a unique experience of immersion into the virtual world that is characterised by immediate response, originality, flexibility and liveliness.
On March 20th 2008 the "Theatron" was inaugurated, a building for numerous uses, with a capacity of 1,100 people. With its main characteristics multiformity and flexibility it can house the most demanding productions, regarding the arrangement of space and technological equipment. Its technical specifications follow the highest standards, while the audiovisual infrastructure is unique in Greece. The stage technologies allow the creation of virtual sets and incorporating happenings into them. The "THEATRON" also possesses complete and ultramodern conference infrastructure and possibility to support live connections of image and sound. It has an ambition to house the contemporary Greek artistic expression, hosting various events, from theatrical and dance performances to exhibitions and conferences.
During its operation Hellenic Cosmos has presented numerous activities, which include exhibitions, educational programmes, Virtual Reality programmes, and documentaries produced by FHW. At the Cultural Centre's museum shops a variety of FHW products are displayed, such as books, CD-ROMs and documentaries. At the Cyber Hall, people of all ages have the possibility to navigate through FHW's web sites, which provide historical information as well as clever games of historical and educational content.
FHW's productions are designed and implemented almost exclusively by a team of permanent collaborators, who, in their majority, work in a building that houses the administrative services, at the Research and Development Centre in Thissio. The staff consists of archaeologists, historians, translators, editors, architects, museologists, museum educators, computer scientists, graphic designers, multimedia designers and creators of 3D digital reconstructions, many of whom have postgraduate titles or doctorates.
Knowledge, creativity and proper planning have contributed to the completion of programmes, whose content contributes to the achievement of FHW's aims. Analysing the Foundation's activities to date it becomes apparent that the administration builds on top of the initial idea.