The Hellenic Heritage Institute (HHI) evolved from the formation of a Greek Folk Dance group in 1963 of San Jose State University fellow faculty wives. The group, founded and led by Marina Moustakas, was called the "Demotic Dancers" and shared this part of Greek culture by performing at festivals, celebrations and international fairs, including San Jose's first Greek Culutre and Food Festival, in 1971.
Cultural Exhibits at the first Greek Festival in San Jose were the prototype of Hellenic Heritage Museum. The original festival team believed there was more to share about Greek culture than simply food and dance. The festival included a cutlural exhibit that displayed different aspects and activities of traditional Greek life, which in essence became the prototype of what would eventually be the Hellenic Heritage Museum.
Above: The 1972 cultural exhibit at the SJ Greek Festival. From Left. Kathy & Toula Barkas display textiles from the exhibit of a traditional Greek home; Center: Rev. Father John G. Berris, SF Mayor George Christopher and SJ Mayor Norm Minetta receive typical Greek hospitality by Marina Moustakas; Right: Hostesses to the exhibit, Kathy Barkas, Chrysanthy Conomos & Toula Barkas.
Leadership of the Demotic Dancers was later taken over by fellow dancer, Larraine McBride, who in 1989, established the group as a non-profit organization under the name of Hellenic Traditional Arts Institutes. The focus widened to include teaching all facets of Greek dancing, including history, costumes, music, and singing associated with the folklore of Greece.
Ten years later, in 1999, Marina Moustakas was reunited with the organization, and they further broadened its scope to include other aspects of Greek culture, under the new identity of the Hellenic Heritage Institute, followed by the formation of the Hellenic Heritage Museum.
Above: The 2012 SJ Greek Festival. The San Jose Greek Festival has been an ongoing annual event for more than forty years. The Hellenic Heritage Institute, which shares the core values of the original festival team, provides the exhibit of a traditional Greek home created from display pieces at the Hellenic Heritage Museum.
Visit the Hellenic Heritage Museum at History San Jose
1650 Senter Road, SJ, CA 95112
(entrance at 635 Phelan Avenue)
+1 408 247-4685
or by Appointment