Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Greek and Roman Galleries opening at the Met Museum April 20th

On April 20th the newly redesigned and refurbished Greek and Roman galleries will be opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The new galleries will house objects created between about 900 B.C. and the early fourth century C.E. Works on view will trace the evolution of Greek art in the Hellenistic period and the arts of southern Italy and Etruria, culminating in the rich and varied world of the Roman Empire.

Thousands of works from the Met's permanent collection will be displayed in the new Leon Levy and Shelby White Court (formerly used as a grand restaurant) and now redesigned as a private Roman villa with marble floor, garden court and a new second story. This will provide a grand stage for a comprehensive installation of the largest selection of these works ever shown at the Met, including portraits of famous—and infamous—Roman emperors such as Augustus, Caligula, and Antoninus Pius. A display of Roman funerary sculpture, featuring the highly ornate Badminton Sarcophagus with its depiction of the triumph of the god Dionysus, will also be on view, and architectural fragments from the emperor Domitian's palace on the Palatine in Rome will be displayed here for the first time in many years.

Galleries around the new Roman court the new Roman Court will present works from the Museum's rich collection of Hellenistic art as well as the arts of South Italy and Sicily. The display of these works will provide a vital artistic and historical link between the Greek and the new Roman galleries. Of particular interest will be a new Hellenistic Treasury. An expansive new balcony overlooking the Roman Court will be devoted to Etruscan art, featuring a rare Etruscan chariot as its centerpiece. The chariot has been restored prior to its return to permanent public view for the first time since the early 1990s.

These new galleries will present more than 6,000 works of art, some of which have not been on view in decades, and that have never before been available to the public. Highlights include the Statue of an Old Market Woman, a Roman statue from the first century A.D. that presents a realistic depiction of an elderly woman in an elegant dress, thong sandals, and a crown of Dionysiac ivy leaves. She is dressed for a festival, and the chickens and basket of fruit she carries are probably offerings for Dionysus, god of wine. Hellenistic and Roman artists introduced accurate characterization of age and emotions. Also on view will be the life-size Bronze Statue of a Boy (Roman, Augustan period, late first century B.C.–early first century A.D.) depicting a youth on the threshold of adulthood. Treasured more highly than marble, bronze statues were common in the Hellensitic and Roman periods but were routinely melted down in later periods, making this life-size bronze a rare treasure.

Anyone care to join me for a visit?

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