Culture, Exhibitions

May 2016 Museum Listings

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, United Kingdom, Europe/Middle East, and East Asia/Oceania. Here is a taste of what is on show at major museums around the world in May 2016:

The Americas

Boston, MA

Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia

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.)

Cambridge, MA

Ocarinas of the Americas: Music Made in Clay

This bilingual exhibit (English and Español) features nearly 80 spectacular examples of ocarinas from the Peabody Museum’s vast collection. Uncovered at archaeological sites in Central America and Mexico, these musical instruments were crafted from local low-fired clay and carefully fashioned, incised, and painted into a variety of human and animal forms. Visitors to this multi-sensory exhibit will hear soundscapes that feature the varied tones and melodies produced by ocarinas, from the whimsical to the deeply haunting. Ocarinas of the Americas: Music Made in Clay also explores the history and cultural significance of these extraordinary works of art and sound that have inspired invention and captured the modern imagination.
Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University 
Until early 2017.

Chicago, IL

Persepolis: Images of an Empire

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.

Cleveland, OH

Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt

Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt brings 3,000 years of ancient history to life through some of the finest objects from the vast Egyptian holdings of the British Museum, from monumental sculpture to exquisite jewelry, supplemented by masterworks from the Cleveland collection. While many objects here were created to project a regal image of pharaoh, the story that emerges through this exhibition is also one of a country divided by civil war, conquered by foreign powers, or ruled by competing kings. These ancient rulers themselves were not always male, or even Egyptian, but they shared in the challenges of ruling one of the greatest civilizations the world has seen.
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Until June 12, 2016.

Los Angeles, CA

Roman Mosaics Across the Empire

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.
Getty Villa
Until September 12, 2016.

Montréal, QC


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

Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed

For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems, and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed is a bilingual (English/Español) exhibition that illuminates Central America’s diverse and dynamic ancestral heritage.  It examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Spanning the period from 1000 BCE to the present, the ceramics featured, selected from the National Museum of the American Indian’s collection of more than 12,000 pieces from the region, are augmented with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell, and stone. These objects illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of the Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks sharing knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization.
National Museum of the American Indian — New York
Until January 2017.
(Please see our interview with a curator from this exhibition, which was published in 2013.)

Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas

From the first millennium B.C. until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, artists from the ancient Americas created small-scale architectural models to be placed in the tombs of important individuals. These works in stone, ceramic, wood, and metal range from highly abstracted, minimalist representations of temples and houses to elaborate architectural complexes populated with figures. These miniature structures were critical components in funerary practice and beliefs about an afterlife, and they convey a rich sense of ancient ritual and as well as the daily lives of the Aztecs, the Incas, and their predecessors. Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas — the first of its kind in the United States — will shed light on the role of these objects in mediating relationships between the living, the dead, and the divine. It will also provide a rare look at ancient American architecture, much of which did not survive to the present day. Some 30 remarkable loans from museums in the United States and Peru will join works from the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Until September 18, 2016.

Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity

ISAW’s spring exhibition, Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity, offers intimate glimpses into the lives of those who commissioned and used textiles and more sweeping views across Late Antique society (roughly third to seventh century CE). The exhibition brings together over fifty textiles of diverse materials, techniques, and motifs to explore how clothing and cloth furnishings expressed ideals of self, society, and culture. By their valuable materials and virtuoso execution, the textiles displayed their owners’ wealth and discernment. To modern viewers, the materials and techniques also attest to developments around the Mediterranean world and farther east along the routes of the silk trade. The Late Antique owners, in choosing from a vast repertory of motifs, represented (hopefully more than actually) the prosperity and well-being of their households.
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
Until May 22, 2016.

Encountering Vishnu: The Lion Avatar in Indian Temple Drama

Dramas presented during religious festivals in southern India are an important aspect of popular Hindu celebration. This exhibition highlights five rare wooden sculptural masks that represent a largely unrecorded category of late medieval Indian devotional art. The masks depict the protagonists in a deadly battle between Vishnu in his man-lion avatar, Narasimha, and an evil king whose destruction was essential for the restoration of order in the universe.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Until June 5, 2016.

Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus

The Onassis Cultural Center NY presents 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
Until June 18, 2016

Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World

This exhibition will bring together some 264 artworks that were created through the patronage of the royal courts of the Hellenistic kingdoms, with an emphasis on the ancient city of Pergamon. Examples in diverse media—from marble, bronze, and terracotta sculptures to gold jewelry, vessels of glass and engraved gems, and precious metals and coins—reveal the enduring legacy of Hellenistic artists and their profound influence on Roman art. The ancient city of Pergamon (now known as Bergama, in present-day Turkey) was the capital of the Attalid Dynasty that ruled over large parts of Asia Minor.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Until July 17, 2016.

The Vikings Exhibition

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.

Palo Alto, CA

An Oasis in Glass

This exhibition showcases 4th-century mosaics, beads, flasks, and other glass objects created during the Roman occupation of Syria and Egypt. Displayed in a space that replicates the desert’s dunes and wide expanses, each object serves as a kind of tiny experiential oasis what with light boxes amplifying the works’ sparkle and transparency. The show also incorporates themes from classical Arabic poetry.
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Until August 8, 2016.

Philadelphia, PA

The Golden Age of King Midas

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.

Toronto, ON

Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, Gold and Ceramics in Ancient Panama

For more than a thousand years, a cemetery on the banks of the Rio Grande Coclé in Panama lay undisturbed, escaping the attention of gold seekers and looters. The river flooded in 1927, scattering beads of gold along its banks. In 1940, a Penn Museum team excavated at the cemetery, unearthing spectacular finds — large golden plaques and pendants with animal-human motifs, precious and semi-precious stone, ivory, and animal bone ornaments, and literally tons of detail-rich painted ceramics. It was extraordinary evidence of a sophisticated Pre-Columbian people, the Coclé, who lived, died, and painstakingly buried their dead long ago. Beneath the Surface uses these artifacts to create a portrait of the Coclé people.
Gardiner Museum
Until May 29, 2016.

Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art

They roam the pages of countless legends, tales and fables, and have inspired artists for centuries. Magical creatures — from dragons, unicorns, and composite creatures to rainbow-colored simurghs and shape-shifting demons — take center stage in artworks at the Aga Khan Museum this summer. Through an astonishing variety of media — including manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, glass, and metalwork from the 7th to the 21st centuries CE — Marvellous Creatures celebrates these real and mythical animals, and illuminates the knowledge contained in classic fables and epics from the Middle East, North Africa, and Indian Subcontinent. An intriguing installation by Lebanese artist Mohamad-Said Baalbaki adjacent to the exhibition explores the human-headed winged stallion al-buraq.
Aga Khan Museum
From May 7, 2016 until September 11, 2016.

Washington, DC

Body of Devotion: The Cosmic Buddha in 3D

Like all Buddhas (fully enlightened beings), the Cosmic Buddha, a life-size limestone figure of Vairochana, is wrapped in the simple robe of a monk. What makes this sixth-century CE Chinese object exceptional are the detailed narrative scenes that cover its surface, representing moments in the life of the Historical Buddha as well as the Realms of Existence, a symbolic map of the Buddhist world. With help from the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office, the Cosmic Buddha also exists as a 3D model, enabling scholars to study the work as never before and providing worldwide access to this masterpiece of Buddhist sculpture. Body of Devotion is an interactive installation that explores not only the work itself, but also the evolving means and methods of studying sculpture, from rubbings and photographs to the technological possibilities of today.
Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute
Until December 2016.

The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire

The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire explores the foundations of the Inka Road in earlier Andean cultures, technologies that made building the road possible, the cosmology and political organization of the Inka world, and the legacy of the Inka Empire during the colonial period and in the present day.
National Museum of the American Indian — Washington, DC
Until June 1, 2018.

Heart of an Empire: Herzfeld’s Discovery of Pasargadae

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.

United Kingdom

Cambridge, England

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
Until May 22, 2016.

Cardiff, Wales

Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology

The exhibition will tell the stories behind great archaeological discoveries from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Pre-Columbian America and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), some of which have never been seen in Wales before. It will include a whole host of fascinating objects and treasures from ancient worlds as well as more recent examples uncovered in Wales. The archaeological investigations of individuals such as Giovanni Belzoni (Italian explorer and pioneer archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities), Flinders Petrie (Egyptologist) and Adela Breton (archaeological artist and explorer) will be explored. This will be contrasted with adventure today and the impact of archaeological discoveries on popular culture, fiction and film, from Tintin and Indiana Jones to Rider Haggard and Conan Doyle.
National Museum Cardiff
Until October 30, 2016.

Edinburgh, Scotland

The Celts

Discover magnificent Iron Age treasures adorned with intricate patterns and fantastic animals, rich with hidden meanings, which were used for feasting, religious ceremonies, adornment and warfare. Learn how these distinctive art styles were transformed and took on new influences in response to the expanding Roman world and the spread of Christianity. Then examine how the decorative arts of the late 19th century were inspired by different ideas about Europe’s past, and played a key role in defining what it meant to be Irish, Welsh, Scottish and British. Featuring more than 300 treasured objects from across the UK and Europe, assembled together in Scotland for the first time, this is a unique opportunity to explore the idea of “Celts” as one of the fundamental building blocks of European history.
National Museum of Scotland
Until September 25, 2016.

Falmouth, England

Viking Voyagers

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.

London, England

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.

Hoards: The Hidden History of Ancient Britain

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.
British Museum
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.
British Museum
Until August 14, 2016.

Sicily: Culture and Conquest

Sicily has been shaped by waves of conquest and settlement by different peoples over 4,000 years. Since the 8th century BCE, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans all settled or invaded the island, lured by its fertile lands and strategic location. Over time, this series of conquests forged a cultural identity unlike any other. This exhibition tells Sicily’s fascinating stories — from the arrival of the Greeks and their encounters with the Phoenicians and other settlers, to the extraordinary period of enlightenment under Norman rule in the 11th to 13th centuries. For much of its history, Sicily was admired and envied for its wealth, cultural patronage and architecture. In the exhibition, ancient Greek sculpture, architectural decorations from temples, churches and palaces, early coinage, stunning gold jewellery, and Norman mosaics and textiles demonstrate Sicily’s diversity, prosperity and significance over hundreds of years.
British Museum
Until August 14, 2016.

Oxford, England

Pure Land: Images of Immortals in Chinese Art

“Pure Land” is the name for the realm of the Buddha and other deities depicted in paintings since the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE).  Pure Land Buddhism is particularly associated with the cave temples at Dunhuang in northwest China, near the eastern end of the Silk Route.  During China’s war with Japan in the 1940s, many artists took refuge in Sichuan province, and from there some journeyed to Dunhuang and painted copies of the famous cave temple murals. This display shows rare examples of their work alongside other images of popular deities, particularly Guanyin, in paintings, textiles and porcelain.
Ashmolean Museum
Until October 2, 2016.

Perth, Scotland

Cradle of Scotland

Cradle of Scotland explores the results of 10 years work by the University of Glasgow’s Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot Project, known as SERF. Through excavation, aerial reconnaissance, radiocarbon dating, archaeological reconstruction and 3D visualization, Cradle of Scotland explores the evolution of society from loosely connected communities in prehistory to the centralized kingdom of historic Alba (Gaelic for “Scotland”).
Perth Museum & Art Gallery
Until June 26, 2016.

Shrewsbury, England

Valhalla — Life and Death in Viking Britain

This is an exciting exhibition that brings together key Viking burial findings, objects that explore everyday life in Britain 1,000 years ago and the latest archaeological research techniques. Discover significant artifacts from excavations in York, including two Viking-age skeletons that were recently unearthed in the city. Visitors to this exhibition also learn how remains found in excavations can reveal the way Vikings commemorated and celebrated their dead using pagan boat burials, grave goods, and ornately carved headstones. Evidence from York and Shropshire, including the burials of a woman and a man and objects that relate to everyday life in Viking-age Britain, are additionally displayed.
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery
Until June 5, 2016.

Europe & Middle East

Athens, Greece

A Dream Among Splendid Ruins: Strolling Through the Athens of Travellers, 17th-19th century

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.

Berlin, Germany

Art of Prehistoric Times: Rock Paintings from the Frobenius Collection

In addition to the art of the “primitives” (the term used for indigenous peoples at the time) and the “naives” (children and the mentally ill), the quest for original, unspoiled forms of expression in the 1920s and 1930s gave rise to a third, often neglected source of inspiration for the development of modern art: prehistoric art, particularly the oldest human art tradition, rock art. Around 100 samples, including many large, wall-sized copies from the Frobenius Institute, as well as photographic and archive material, depict the epic history of rock-art documentation in European caves, the central Sahara, the savannas of Zimbabwe, and the Australian outback. This exhibition examines the impact of these never-before-seen images on modernity, and the manner in which they have inspired artists.
Until May 16, 2016.

Death in Naples: The 125th Anniversary of the Death of Heinrich Schliemann

Heinrich Schliemann — businessman, multimillionaire, world traveler, and excavator — died on December 26, 1890 in Naples, Italy. His embalmed body was transferred to Athens, Greece where he was buried on January 4, 1891 in the city’s First Cemetery, his funeral attended by large crowds. 2015 sees the 125th anniversary of his death and the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte has taken this opportunity to mount a special exhibition in the Dienerkammer and the Rote Saal of the Neues Museum. The special exhibition, Death in Naples: The 125th anniversary of the Death of Heinrich Schliemann is a homage to the archaeologist, collector and patron. Selected exhibits from the Trojan Collection and from other excavations, including those at Mycenae, Tiryns and Orchomenos, are presented together for the first time.
Neues Museum
Until June 30, 2016.

Doha, Qatar

Silks from the Silk Road – Chinese Art of Silk

This is the second major exhibition of the Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture, and presents silk as a theme, and as a special local product of Zhejiang that played an important role in trade along the Silk Road. The exhibition highlights ancient and modern Chinese silk works, with around 100 pieces due to be showcased at the QM Gallery in Katara over a period of six weeks. The exhibition aims to map out the history of silk and its cultural significance over thousands of years, and allows visitors to experience the charm of contemporary Chinese silk.
QM Gallery Katara
Until May 9, 2016.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

But Still Tomorrow Builds into My Face

The exhibition takes on a timely topic: the disappearance and loss of cultural and other types of heritage. The works explore the relationship between collecting, power, history, conflict and identity. By snatching away subjects from the jaws of time and permanent loss, and by fixing them in memory, the works become poetic and political acts of preservation. But Still Tomorrow Builds into My Face, curated by Nat Muller, features works by contemporary artists Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Daniele Genadry, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Yazan Khalili, Taus Mackhacheva, Shahpour Pouyan, and Pia Rönicke.
Lawrie Shabibi Gallery
Until May 19, 2016.

Jerusalem, Israel

By the Rivers of Babylon

On display for the first time, in By the Rivers of Babylon, are original artifacts dating to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian Exile, including clay tablets from the Al-Yahudu archive (named after the city that the Judean exiles settled, in southern Iraq). Written in the Akkadian language, these texts give us an unprecedented insight into the daily lives of the Judean exiles in ancient Babylonia. While the earliest of the tablets from this collection was written just 15 years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BCE, the collection documents the lives of the Judeans and their neighbors up to 477 BCE, the date of the latest text in this collection. Complementing these artifacts are  illustrations from the medieval and modern eras of the dramatic events.
Bible Lands Museum
Until May 15, 2016.

Hadrian: An Emperor Cast in Bronze

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.
Israel Museum
Until June 30, 2016.

Pharaoh in Canaan: The Untold Story

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.
Israel Museum
Until October 25, 2016.

Leiden, The Netherlands

Egypt: Land of Immortality

With magnificent sculptures, bronze figures of the gods, colorful mummy cases, and age-old mummies, Egypt: Land of Immortality shows how the ancient Egyptians prepared for eternal life in the next world. The exhibition also includes many luxurious grave goods, such as magical scarabs, jewellery, cosmetics, and ritual spells on papyrus scrolls.  More than 150 objects all come from the museum’s own collection. Some have never been on public display before.
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
Until October 2, 2016.

Naples, Italy

Myths and Nature: From Greece to Pompeii

This exhibition encompasses a fascinating, little-known facet of our classical roots: the representation of nature in its various aspects and the impact of human beings on the natural world. The 100 archaeological finds exhibited at the Sala della Meridiana in the Naples Archaeological Museum instead focus on landscapes, enchanted gardens, nature as a “gift from the gods,” and nature as a sign. Works on display from museums in Italy and abroad, including the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and the Louvre in Paris.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Until September 30, 2016.

Paris, France

Gardens of the East: From the Alhambra to the Taj Mahal

Western appreciation for gardens is a product of the East. Well before becoming a national emblem of the Netherlands, for example, the tulip was highly prized by Ottoman sultans who lavished countless tulips on foreign dignitaries and allies. No less is the concept behind the modern park in Western cities an import from the East. The very word “paradise” was born from the Persian pairi-daeza — meaning “enclosure.” This exhibition serves as a modern interpretation of the Eastern garden, incorporating the many facets of its ancient art, including a promenade of pink and orange trees, palms and jasmine that lead to the discovery of variegated vegetation, as imagined by Francois Abelanet. Tracing the history of Eastern gardens from ancient times to the most contemporary innovations, from the Iberian peninsula to the Indian subcontinent, the exhibition garden is accompanied by some 300 works or art on loan by major international and private collections that recall the ingenuity and talent behind the horticulturists of the past.
Institut Du Monde Arabe
Until September 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.

Tel Aviv, Israel

Bar Kokhba

Simon bar Kokhba (d. 135 CE) was the Jewish leader of what is known as the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE, establishing an independent Jewish state which he ruled for three years. Bar Kokhba has always been controversial in Jewish tradition, and the criticism leveled at his leadership, which had inspired messianic hope for redemption, was expressed in what was considered a disgraceful name, “Bar Kosiva,” which appears in a Talmudic text and in later sources as well. Contrary to this direction, others chose to present the character of the revolt’s leader as an admired hero, the result of his daring and love of freedom, and they replaced the traditional Bar Kosiva with the messianic name of Bar Kokhba. This exhibition will presents archeological exhibits, works of art, and numerous items that attest to the myth and popular culture that were created in Israel and in the Jewish Diaspora regarding the hero, and examine the way in which philosophers and tradition related to him over generations.
Eretz Israel Museum
Until June 18, 2016

It is the Land of Honey

Tel Rehov in the Beth Shean Valley, one of the largest tells in Israel, was excavated between 1997-2012 by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, headed by Professor Amihai Mazar. The site was continually occupied from the beginning of the Late Bronze Age until the end of the Iron Age II, with traces of an Early Bronze II-III fortified city as well. The most extensive remains uncovered date to the 10th-9th century BCE, the Iron Age IIA, corresponding with  the biblical period of the United Monarchy and the northern kingdom of Israel, until the rise of Jehu’s dynasty. The finds from this period comprise the focus of It is the Land of Honey. Numerous aspects of the rich material culture dating to this period that were revealed at this major site are presented, with an emphasis on the Canaanite background of the population, the cultural and political affiliation with the Israelite kingdom, and unique aspects of the local architecture and cultic practices.
Eretz Israel Museum
Until October 30, 2016

East Asia/Oceania

Adelaide, Australia

Shields: Power and Protection in Aboriginal Australia

Shields: Power and Protection in Aboriginal Australia showcases 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
Until May 22, 2016.

Nagoya, Japan

The Gold Legend

Humans have always been fascinated by gold. The world’s oldest gold artifacts, produced during the Copper Age long before the ancient Egyptian pyramids some 6,000 years ago, were discovered in Bulgaria in 1972. This discovery proved that the tales recounting the quest for gold in Greek mythology were not merely legends. In addition to these ancient artifacts, The Gold Legend presents masterpieces of gold work based on superb techniques developed by the ancient Thracian, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan civilizations, which flourished in the coastal regions of the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art
Until May 29, 2016.

Sendai, Japan

The Golden Pharaohs and Pyramids: The Treasures from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo

This exhibition, focusing on the theme of pyramids built in the era of the Old Kingdom, which began approximately 4,500 years ago, and the pharaohs, features treasures from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Among the items included are statues of pharaohs and the “Golden Mask of King Amenemopet.”
Sendai City Museum
Until June 26, 2016.

Seoul, South Korea

Ancient Tombs, Memories of Seoul

This exhibition will have on display artifacts that were recently excavated in Seoul from ancient burial mounds of historical significance. Some of the neighborhoods where Baekje-era (18 BCE-660 CE) tombs and artifacts were uncovered are Seokchon-dong, Garak-dong, and Umyeon-dong. Silla-era (57 BCE-935 CE) artifacts that were excavated from ancient tombs in Seoul’s Cheonwang-dong and Myeongnyun-dong neighborhoods will also be displayed. By learning about the burial patterns and practices of ancient Koreans, you can learn about the lives of ancient Koreans. The Seoul Baekje Museum is currently excavating the Seokchon-dong burial site and several of the artifacts to be displayed are among the most recently uncovered relics.
Seoul Baekje Museum
Until June 6, 2016.

Sydney, Australia

Tang 唐: Treasures from the Silk Road Capital

Never before seen in Australia, this exhibition showcases some 130 spectacular objects from the Chinese province of Shaanxi, which demonstrate the high artistic achievements of the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). It also includes an immersive digital installation using pioneering augmented-reality technology.  Around the 7th century CE, while London was just a market town of a few thousand people, a city called Chang’an rose to be the capital of the powerful and influential Tang Empire, which stretched from today’s Korea in the north, Vietnam in the south and far into Central Asia. Home of a million people, it was the biggest, most advanced city in the world. Being the start and terminus of the Silk Road, it fostered an outward-looking society with great wealth and tolerance.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Until July 10, 2016.

Tokyo, Japan

Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul

Afghanistan thrived at the “crossroads of civilizations” in Central Asia during ancient times. The country developed a distinctive culture of its own as a center of the Silk Road. This exhibition, comprising of 231 ancient artworks from the National Museum of Afghanistan, illustrates some of the most magnificent cultures, which flourished in what is present-day Afghanistan c. 2200 BCE to 150 CE.
Tokyo National Museum
Until June 19, 2016.

Nota Bene: Are you a museum press professional or curator that would like your exhibition to be included in AHE’s monthly listing? If so, please contact our Communications/PR Team via email with the subject line “Museum Listings.” We would love to hear from you and include your show next month!


Filed under: Culture, Exhibitions


James Blake Wiener is the Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia. Trained as a historian and researcher, and previously a professor, James is chiefly interested in cross-cultural exchange, world history, and international relations. Aside from his work at AHE, James is an avid Arabist, devotee of romance languages (French, Portuguese, and Spanish), reggaetoñero, and fan of ice hockey.