A Fresh Look at the Art of the Ancient Mediterranean
The arts of the ancient world have been collected by the Art Museum since its founding, and the ancient art collection now numbers more than five thousand objects. The Art of the Ancient Mediterranean gallery, on the lower level of the Art Museum, has recently been redesigned, the culmination of a multiyear project. The last comprehensive redesign of this gallery took place thirty years ago. The recent changes include upgrades of lighting, paint, fabrics, mounts, and labels, the introduction of multiple explanatory wall texts, and the rotation and repositioning of numerous objects.
Entering from the galleries of Chinese art, visitors are greeted with an expanse of richly installed cases lining the walls, and a series of freestanding pedestals, whose designs and labeling also have been upgraded. The wall cases feature the arts of the ancient Near East, Egypt, Cyprus, and Rome, and of Greece in every epoch from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic period. In the middle of the gallery, two cases emerging at right angles from the walls contain black-figure and red-figure pottery from Athens and South Italy, a particular strength of the collection. The largest of the freestanding cases contains outstanding examples of early Etruscan pottery and metalwork, while another features precious Greek and Roman objects in gold and silver.
The total number of works on view in the Art of the Ancient Mediterranean gallery exceeds 450 objects. Only select artworks from each culture and period are presented, but periodic rotation of new acquisitions and loans into the gallery will continue to refresh and enliven the exhibition space. Hundreds more works from the Museum’s collection of ancient art are exhibited in two adjoining galleries: the Roman Court and the Study Gallery. In addition, the arts of Byzantium and the Islamic world can be viewed in the Medieval, Byzantine, and Islamic Art gallery, located on the upper level of the Museum. The entirety of the Museum’s collections of ancient art can be accessed in its online collections catalogue and through the scholarly catalogues that document the collections of ancient glass, Greek sculpture, and Roman sculpture.
Please spend some time to closely examine and enjoy the wonderful works on view.
J. Michael Padgett
Curator of Ancient Art