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Faculty of Classics

The Labours of Herakles: Herakles in a lionskin faces a Maori with face tattoos

The Labours of Herakles

April 17th - August 15th 2015


Special Notice

The Museum will be open on Saturday 15th August 10am-1pm for the final day of the exhibition, The Labours of Herakles.


Hercules – most famous of all the Greek heroes – steps directly out of a Greek vase and into the New World in this series of beautifully observed lithographs and etchings. New Zealand artist Marian Maguire imagines Herakles as nineteenth-century colonist, venturing into a landscape where his labours are both mundane and extraordinary.

exhibition poster, Hercules in lionskin facing Maori man with spear

Marrying classical myth and colonial narratives, this exhibition weaves together untold stories of clashing cultures and competing aesthetics. Set against the atmospheric backdrop of the classical casts, the works invite the viewer to question what it means to be a hero – whether in ancient or more recent pasts. Maguire turns a knowing gaze on New Zealand history and early European contact and colonisation, enlivened with gentle humour and a keen eye for detail.

About the artist: Marian Maguire has exhibited throughout New Zealand and has explored narratives of colonialism through the lens of the classical past in several other series, including The Odyssey of Captain Cook (2005) and Titokowaru's Dilemma (2011). The Labours of Herakles was first exhibited in 2008.

The Labours of Herakles is a touring exhibition, coordinated by Dr Emma Stafford (University of Leeds). First shown at Leeds City Museum, after Cambridge, the exhibition will travel to the following venues:



Families Thursday 28th May, 2-3.30pm: 'The Labours of Herakles'

Talk Thursday May 28th, 6-7pm: 'Herakles the New Zealand Pioneer: an ancient Greek hero reflects on colonialism'

Tour Friday June 26th, 2-3pm: 'Curator's Tour: The Labours of Herakles'

Families Monday 3rd August: 'Haka Workshop for Children, 12.50-2pm' and 'Haka Workshop for Children, 2.50-4pm'

Workshop Wednesday 5th August, 7-9pm: 'Cut it out, Herakles style!'


Find out more

Marian Maguire's website

Interview with Marian in Practitioner's Voices in Classical Reception Studies

The Hercules Project at the University of Leeds




Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

Admission is free.


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Just drop in: no need to book


Christmas Closure

We will close at 5pm on Friday 17 December 2021 and will reopen at 10am on Wednesday 5th January.


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Tues-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat (univ. term-time only): 2-5pm
Sun and Monday: Closed

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We are currently open on Saturdays until Saturday 27 November 2021.

Please note: We are only open on Saturdays during University of Cambridge term time.


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Museum of Classical Archaeology
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