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Greek and Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum January 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.

The Greek and Roman collections, with works of art ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in A.D. 330, include the art of many cultures.

The areas represented are Greece and Italy, but not as limited by modern political frontiers: much of Asia Minor on the periphery of Greece was settled by Greeks, Cyprus became increasingly Hellenized in the course of its long history, and Greek colonies were established around much of the Mediterranean basin and on the shores of the Black Sea. In Roman art the geographical limits coincide with the political expansion of Rome. The collections also illustrate the pre-Greek art of Greece and the pre-Roman art of Italy.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s very first accessioned object was a Roman sarcophagus from Tarsus, donated in 1870, but a department for Greek and Roman art was not established formally until 1909. Today, the more than 35,000 objects overseen by the department range from over-life-size statues to small engraved gemstones and include virtually all of the materials in which ancient artists and craftsmen worked: marble, limestone, terracotta, bronze, gold and silver, glass as well as the rarer substances such as ivory and bone, iron, lead, amber, and wood.

The strengths of the representative collections include Cypriot sculpture, painted Greek vases, marble and bronze Roman portrait busts, and wall paintings from two villas on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, one in Boscoreale and the other in Boscotrecase. The department’s holdings in glass and silver are among the finest in the world, and the collection of archaic Attic sculpture is second only to that in Athens.

Currently, the Museum is in the midst of a three-phase master plan for the Greek and Roman Galleries that includes complete renovation of the exhibition spaces and a total reinstallation of the collections. The first phase was completed in June 1996 with the opening of The Robert M. and Renée Belfer Court for prehistoric and early Greek art. The second phase, with seven galleries of Greek art of the sixth, fifth, and fourth centuries B.C., opened in April 1999. The department’s extensive collection of Cypriot art will be on view after April 2000. When completed, the master plan will increase the overall exhibition space from 26,700 square feet to 60,000 square feet and the majority of the Greek and Roman Department’s holdings will be on view, either in chronologically organized galleries or in an extensive study-storage collection. 

Related Links > www.metmuseum.org

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