Back by popular demand, Ancient History Encyclopedia will once again share news, on a monthly basis, about select museum exhibitions and events of interest to our global audience via AHetc. Exhibitions are arranged in alphabetical order by geographical location and region within this post: the Americas, the United Kingdom, Europe/Middle East, and East Asia/Oceania. Here’s a taste of what’s on show at major museums around the world in March 2016:
This dazzling exhibition focuses on the Museum’s world-class collection of jewelry from Ancient Nubia (located in what is now Sudan). The Nubian adornments housed at the MFA constitute the most comprehensive collection outside Khartoum. As the conduit between the Mediterranean world and lands south of the Nile Valley, Nubia was known for its exotic luxury goods–especially gold. Gold and the Gods focuses on excavated ornaments from an early 20th-century expedition by the Museum with Harvard University, dating from 1700 BCE to 300 CE, including both uniquely Nubian and foreign imports, prized for their materials, craftsmanship, symbolism, and rarity. The MFA is the only US museum able to mount an exhibition devoted solely to Nubian adornment drawing exclusively on its own collection.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Until May 14, 2017.
(Please see our interview with a curator from this exhibition, which was published in 2014.)
The exhibition will take visitors on an extraordinary journey through more than 5,000 years of Greek culture–from their Neolithic origins to the expansion of Greek culture into Asia and Africa under Alexander the Great. Drawing from the collections of 21 Greek museums, it will be the largest exhibition on the ancient Greeks in North America in 25 years. The 500 artifacts in the show include iconic objects from the tombs of the Bronze Age rulers of Mycenae and the earliest aristocrats of Archaic and Classical city states. Also included are astonishing finds from the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Visitors to the exhibition will get a glimpse into the individual lives of the Ancient Greeks including Minoan and Mycenaean rulers and priestesses, aristocratic warriors and ladies of Archaic Greece, athletes of classical Athens, and Philip II.
Until April 17, 2016.
This exhibition explores some of the 3700 black-and-white archival photographs of the Achaemenid Persepolis taken during the Oriental Insitute of Chicago’s expedition. The site was excavated between 1931 and 1939 by Ernst Herzfeld and Erich Schmidt, with Hans-Wichart von Busse and Boris Dubensky documenting both the monuments and the surrounding landscape in photographs. The photographs displayed show numerous columns, grand halls, ornate staircases, and carvings of people from across the Achaemenid Persian Empire, while a multimedia presentation examines the results of the aerial surveys.
Oriental Institute of Chicago, University of Chicago
Until September 11, 2016.
Los Angeles, CA
Roman decor was unique for the elaborate mosaic floors that transformed entire rooms into spectacular settings of vibrant color, figural imagery, and geometric design. Scenes from mythology, daily life, the natural world, and spectacles in the arena enlivened interior spaces and reflected the cultural ambitions of wealthy patrons. Drawn primarily from the Getty Museum’s collection, this exhibition presents the artistry of mosaics as well as the contexts of their discovery across Rome’s expanding empire–from its center in Italy to provinces in North Africa, southern Gaul, and ancient Syria.
From March 30 to September 12, 2016.
Soak up the splendor and opulence of Pompeii in a spectacular exhibition that features over 220 archaeological artifacts in a unique environment. Mosaics, frescoes, bronze and marble statues, decorative art objects, as well as utensils and personal accessories, will bring to life this small provincial colony of the Roman Empire that was frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. The largest exhibition on Pompeii ever presented in Québec, it drew 273,000 visitors during its presentation in Toronto in 2015.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Until September 5, 2016.
(Please see our interview with a curator of this exhibition from when it was at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.)
New York, NY
The Discovery of King Tut offers museum-goers a once in a lifetime insight into the archaeology of ancient Egypt. Go on a journey of exploration to experience the treasures of Tutankhamun and his famous tomb chambers exactly as they were when discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, and relive that magical moment of discovery as if you had been there yourself.
Premier Exhibitions at 5th Avenue
Until May 1, 2016.
The Onassis Cultural Center NY will present the exhibition Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus, exploring the relationship between daily life in a city built on the slopes of Mount Olympus and the mythological abode of the gods at the peak. Within an immersive setting, the exhibition will feature more than ninety artworks and artifacts–including mosaics, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, coins, glass, and implements–dating from the tenth century BCE to the fourth century CE. Gods and Mortals at Olympus will be open to the public free of charge as the inaugural exhibition in the newly renovated galleries of the Onassis Cultural Center NY in midtown Manhattan.
The Onassis Cultural Center New York
From March 24 to June 18, 2016
Explore the rich, often-misunderstood Viking culture like never before with the largest collection of Viking artifacts ever displayed in North America. Featuring more than 500 treasures, some never before seen outside of Scandinavia, The Vikings Exhibition shows us why–even 1,000 years later–Viking culture still captivates our imagination.
Discovery Times Square Museum
Until September 5, 2016.
The historical King Midas lived in the prosperous city of Gordion, the political and cultural capital of the Phrygians nearly 3,000 years ago. In 1957, Penn Museum archaeologists excavated a spectacular royal tomb believed to be the final resting place of King Midas’ father Gordios. Dating to c. 740 BCE, the tomb contained a treasure trove of magnificent objects from the time of Midas. This world-exclusive exhibition, developed by the Penn Museum in partnership with the Republic of Turkey, is your chance to view more than 120 dazzling objects, including those from the royal tomb, on special loan from Turkish museums in Ankara, Istanbul, Anatalya, and Gordion.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Until November 27, 2016.
San José, Costa Rica
From Paris to San José: The Oldest Collection from the University of Costa Rica
Power and Pathos presents some 50 bronze sculptures and related works, dating from the fourth century BCE to the first century CE. They span the Hellenistic period when the art and culture of Greece spread throughout the Mediterranean and lands once conquered by Alexander the Great. Through the medium of bronze, artists were able to capture the dynamic realism, expression, and detail that characterize the new artistic goals of the era. This exhibition will feature works from renowned archaeological museums in Austria, Denmark, France, Georgia, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, the United States, and the Vatican. As only a small fraction of ancient bronzes survives–most were melted down over the centuries–this exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate the importance of bronze in antiquity and the innovations of Hellenistic sculptors.
National Gallery of Art
Until March 20, 2016.
(Please see our interview with a curator of this exhibition from when it was at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy.)
Located in the dasht-i murghab, or “plain of the water bird,” in southwestern Iran, Pasargadae was the first capital of the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire (circa 540 BCE) and the last resting place of Cyrus the Great. Impressed with its ruins, German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld (1879-1948 CE) briefly surveyed the site for the first time in 1905. Having completed his PhD thesis on Pasargadae in 1907, he returned in 1923 and 1928 to conduct more extensive excavations. The result was the first map of the site and the identification of its major extant structures. Featuring selections from the Freer|Sackler Archives’ rich holdings of Herzfeld’s drawings, notes, and photographs—among the world’s largest collections of archival materials on Pasargadae–this exhibition illuminates one of the most important sites of the ancient world.
Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute
Until July 31, 2016.
The United Kingdom
Death on the Nile: Uncovering the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt
The first major exhibition for the Fitzwilliam’s 2016 bicentenary celebrations goes beyond the images of mummies, pharaohs and mystery often associated with ancient Egypt. It shows how coffin design developed over 4,000 years, reflecting significant changes both in the status of affluent ancient Egyptians and in the gods that were important to them. A “live” conservation area in the exhibition will provide visitors with a unique insight into the science used to examine the objects on display. There are also nice loans from the British Museum and the Louvre.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
From February 23 to May 22, 2016.
Take a look behind the popular myth of Vikings as brutal invaders and discover what they were really like at Viking Voyagers. This exhibition, which includes significant loans from the British Museum and the National Museum of Denmark among other institutions, humanizes the Vikings. Visitors will learn that they took pride in their appearance, that they wore jewellery and combed their hair, and that their mastery of maritime technology was the secret of their success. Many were entrepreneurs who used smaller boats and ships to seek new trading opportunities far from their Scandinavian homelands.
National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
Until 22 February 2017.
The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections
The new exciting display in the Foyle Special Collections Gallery of the Brunei Gallery, The Arts of Southeast Asia, highlights the breadth of the region’s cultures as represented in the SOAS collections. The objects displayed, many for the first time, have a wide chronological span, are diverse in nature, comprising manuscripts (written on bark, palm leaves, copper sheets and paper), textiles, sculptures, metalwork, ceramics and paintings, and reflect the variety of religions, cultures and languages to be found across this vast area. The objects come from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and range in date from c. 1000 BCE to the twenty first century. The exhibition is organized around four broad themes that touch upon a number of important aspects of Southeast Asian life and culture: religion; magic and divination; literature; and contacts between East and West.
Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Until July 2, 2016.
People have been placing metalwork and valuable objects in the ground and in water since the Bronze Age (c. 2200-800 BCE). These prehistoric hoards are widely accepted as having been deposited as part of ritual practices. Later hoards were traditionally seen as a response to invasion threats and economic upheaval – riches buried in the ground to be retrieved at a later date. The 2010 discovery of a huge Roman coin hoard in Frome in Somerset raised many questions about this traditional interpretation, suggesting that ritual practices also played a part in the burial of Roman hoards.
Until May 22, 2016.
Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne’s Watercolours of Rome
British artist Francis Towne (1739-1816 CE) made a remarkable group of watercolors during a visit to Rome in 1780-1781 CE. They include famous monuments such as the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, ancient baths and temples, and the Forum. These watercolors were Towne’s way of delivering a moral warning to 18th-century Britain not to make the same mistakes — and suffer the same fate — as ancient Rome. 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of their bequest to the museum.
Until August 14, 2016.
Europe & Middle East
This lovely exhibition was designed to provide an imaginary stroll through monumental Athens between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries CE, during the age of the “Grand Tour.” 22 illustrated travel publications and 24 original works of art–oil paintings, watercolors, and engravings from the Library collections of the Hellenic Parliament–offer landscapes, images, monuments, and specific moments from the Athens of travelers, feeding our imagination and setting starting-points for our own, personal readings. 35 marble sculptures from the National Archaeological Museum, many of them exhibited for the first time, converse with the travelers’ works, complementing their charming narrative of the city’s monumental topography.
National Archaeological Museum
Until October 8, 2016.
One God–Abraham’s Descendants on the Nile: Jews, Christians and Muslims in Egypt from the Ancient World to the Middle Ages
The exhibition takes its name from Abraham, the original father and archetype for monotheistic faith and a powerful common thread linking Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Also presented in the exhibition are other figures that appear across all three religions, such as Daniel, Joseph, or the Archangel Gabriel, who were popular figures in Egypt. Based on evidence found in Egypt of the holy scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, visitors are given a brief introduction to the essential characteristics of the three world religions. The display also reveals the different types of sacred buildings – synagogue, church, and mosque – and explains their architectural history and dissemination in Egypt.
Until April 30, 2016.
This exhibition allows museum visitors to discover the secrets of the Egyptian sarcophagi as well as some true masterpieces of the museum’s collection, including coffins, death masks and embalmed cats, many of which have never been shown before. You can also witness an expert Italian restoration team at work as they restore the coffins of the Theban priests that were discovered in 1891 CE in the Second Cache of Deir el-Bahari, one by one.
Until April 20, 2016.
Three extant bronze portraits of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE) are brought together for a first-time display in the Israel Museum, marking a symbolic return of the Emperor to Jerusalem, whose last visit to the city was in 130 CE. One from the British Museum, found in 1834 CE in London in the Thames River; the other, from the collection of the Louvre Museum, thought to have originated in Egypt or Asia Minor, The third, found in the camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem near Beit Shean, which is on display at the Israel Museum’s permanent exhibition.
Until June 30, 2016.
Pharaoh in Canaan tells the untold story of the rich cross-cultural ties between Egypt and Canaan during the second millennium BCE. Most commonly known from the biblical narratives of Joseph and Moses in Egypt, this historical chapter took place during a time of great political flux in both regions, due to two central developments: settlement of the Canaanites in the eastern part of the Egyptian Delta during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1800-1550 BCE); and the consequent period of Egyptian rule over Canaan that saw the establishment of an Egyptian military and administrative presence in Canaan during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1500-1150 BCE). The exhibition presents more than 680 objects demonstrating the cross-fertilization of ritual practices and aesthetic vocabularies between these two distinct ancient cultures. This exhibition has significant loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre and Turin’s famed Egyptian Museum.
From March 4 to October 25, 2016.
The Shamans and Divinities of Pre-Columbian Ecuador
This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for museum visitors to immerse themselves in the spirits of Pre-Columbian Ecuador through the powerful figure of the ancient shaman. The preserver of important traditions, the shaman presided over rites, ceremonies, and festivals, the shaman assured the harmonious balance between the spiritual and temporal domains. Artifacts presented within the exhibition reflect the thoughts and philosophies of Ecuador’s ancient aboriginal peoples; their construction of their social, political, and economic models; their views of cosmic space; and their myths and legends. Gathered from collections at the National Museums of Guayaquil and Quito, masterpieces are showcased from four cultures of the Ecuadorian coast: Chorrera, Bahia, Jama-Coaque and Tolita.
Musée du Quai Branly
Until May 16, 2016.
Shields: Power and Protection in Aboriginal Australia will showcase some 100 shields from the South Australian Museum’s world-leading Aboriginal Cultures Collection. This exhibition is a fascinating exploration of how Aboriginal people use shields as a means of protecting themselves in carefully picked battles, and as a means of expressing individual and community identity through the application of emblems and decorations to the shield surface.
South Australian Museum
From March 24 to May 22, 2016.
Encounters: Revealing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum
This exhibition features rare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum that were collected from 1770 CE onwards. It also highlights the unique voices, emotions and stories connected to these powerful objects.
National Museum of Australia
Until March 28, 2016.
Mummymania focuses on the figure of the Egyptian mummy and its role within the themes of life, death, resurrection and immortality. Ranging from the mummy’s original role in ancient Egyptian funerary practices to its importance in early scientific investigations into ancient disease and medicine, and its popular reception as a malevolent Hollywood monster-figure, the exhibition looks at the changing perception of the mummy over time. This lesser known history is explored alongside the mummy’s well-known role as a Hollywood horror film star.
Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne
Until April 17, 2016.
Nota Bene: Are you a museum press professional or curator that would like for your exhibition to be included in AHE’s monthly listing? If so, please email our Communications/PR Team. We would love to hear from you!