November 2016 Museum Exhibitions

Every month, Ancient History Encyclopedia will share news 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 November 2016:

The Americas

Berkeley, CA

Buddhist Art from the Roof of the World

Artists from India, Tibet, and Nepal have for centuries created sculptures and paintings as a window into a divine Buddhist reality. Buddhist Art from the Roof of the World explores the spiritual meaning of over thirty exceptional works, highlighting their role within the Buddhist doctrine. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a rare fourteenth-century monumental gilt-bronze Buddha from Tibet seated in the posture of meditation; with the right hand touching the earth, the sculpture manifests the moment of enlightenment. Other sculptures and paintings from the region depict a multitude of sublime deities, some fierce and others calming, but all intended to lead the viewer closer to perfect knowledge of the universe through the teachings of wisdom and compassion.
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Until November 27, 2016.

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.)

Bozeman, Montana

The Villas of Oplontis Near Pompeii: Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero

More than 2,000 years ago, extremely wealthy Romans lived and played on the sunny shores of the Bay of Naples at Pompeii and in luxury villas nearby, unconcerned about Mount Vesuvius in the distance. One of the most luxurious of these retreats, Oplontis, set on a cliff 40 feet above the Mediterranean shoreline, was rumored to be the summer villa of Emperor Nero’s second wife, Poppaea. For whatever reason, the villa itself had been abandoned by the time of Vesuvius’ catastrophic eruption in 79 ce, but a commercial wine distribution center next door was thriving. Falling ash and pyroclastic flows buried empty dining rooms that had seated more than a hundred people, an 80-meter swimming pool, private rooms adorned with spectacular frescos, and marble columns resting on mosaic floors ready for re-sale. The Villas at Oplontis, now a World Heritage Site at present-day Torre Annunziata, eight kilometers from Pompeii, have been under archaeological excavation for many years and large parts of the villa and the wine center have been uncovered. These artifacts that have never left Italy before.
Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University
Until December 31, 2016.

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.

Recreating the Throne of Egyptian Queen Hetepheres

An interdisciplinary collaboration at Harvard University has created a full-scale reproduction of an ancient Egyptian throne belonging to Queen Hetepheres (about 2550 BCE). The chair’s materials are based on the ancient original: cedar, bright blue faience tiles, gold foil, gesso, cordage seating, and copper. This experiment in archaeological visualization is a triumph of reconstruction because the only guidance came from thousands of tiny, jumbled fragments and 90-year old expedition records. The reproduction chair is the centerpiece of the new exhibit, Recreating the Throne of Egyptian Queen Hetepheres. In 1925, the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition discovered a small, unfinished chamber almost 100 feet underground at the famous site of Giza. It contained the deteriorated burial equipment, sarcophagus, and other objects belonging to Queen Hetepheres, mother of King Khufu, the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid nearby. The Giza Project team created a 3D digital model of the tomb and its contents, and then used a computer-controlled, five-axis milling machine, plus lots of human labor, to fabricate the chair. The goal of this new museum display object and research/teaching tool was to reconstruct the chair’s iconography and to document the ancient workflow that the Egyptians used to construct such a masterpiece from the Pyramid Age.
Harvard Semitic Museum
Until January 1, 2018.

Chicago, IL

China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors

More than 2,000 years ago, China’s first emperor built a burial complex guarded by a large terracotta army, intended to protect him in the afterlife. Now, some of those warriors are making the journey to Chicago’s Field Museum in their latest exhibition China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors. The exhibition features more than 170 objects including stunning bronze artifacts, weaponry, and ten of the famed terracotta figures. Terracotta Warriors will introduce visitors to Qin Shihuangdi — China’s first emperor — who united a country and built an army to last an eternity.
Field Museum
Until January 8, 2017.

Dallas, TX

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt

From domesticated cats to mythic symbols of divinities, felines played an important role in ancient Egypt for thousands of years. Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt features cats and lions in ancient Egyptian mythology, kingship, and everyday life through diverse representations from the world-famous holdings of the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition features more than eighty objects exploring wild and domestic cats, feline deities, cat burial practices and luxury items decorated with feline features, as well as a small section on dogs.
Dallas Museum of Art
Until January 8, 2017.

Los Angeles, CA

Revealing Creation: The Science and Art of Ancient Maya Ceramics

Drawing on collaborative research by LACMA’s Conservation Center and the Art of the Ancient Americas Program, Revealing Creation: The Science and Art of Ancient Maya Ceramics integrates new insight gained from technical analysis of ancient Maya ceramic vessels with knowledge from Maya culture. This exhibition considers ancient Maya ceramic production as both art and science and highlights how artisans worked to emulate acts of primordial creation through their labor of shaping, painting, and firing clay. The new imaging produced by LACMA’s research reveals vessel composition, pigment chemistry, and modern modifications. Select images are juxtaposed with the objects in the gallery, inviting visitors to view inside these vessels as a way to come closer to the hands — and worlds — of these remarkable artists.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Until December 31, 2016.

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 January 1, 2018.
(Please see our interview with a curator from this exhibition, which was published in 2014.)

The Art of Alchemy

Alchemy, a subject that has long been shrouded in secrecy, was a mysterious mix of science and spirituality. Today, alchemy is regarded as the ancestor of modern chemistry, but throughout history, the practice of alchemy was considered an art. In medieval Europe, it was known as The Great Art. Over time, alchemy greatly influenced the shifting interpretations of the relationship among art, science, and natural philosophy. Drawing primarily from the collections of the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Art of Alchemy will display the critical impact of this arcane subject on artistic practice and expression from Greco-Egyptian antiquity to medieval Central Asia, and from the Islamic world to Europe during the Enlightenment and beyond.
Getty Center
Until February 12, 2017.

Montréal, QC

Fragments of Humanity: Archaeology in Québec

This is the first major exhibition dedicated entirely to Québec archaeology. Some 350 significant pieces will be featured, celebrating 50 years of archaeological discovery in Québec. The exhibition looks back at the events and ways of life behind fragments of humanity that, each in their own way, reveal various facets of our heritage. Taken out of the ground, these objects summon up stories and, when placed end-to-end, are invaluable material evidence that ultimately tells us about our history. Highlighting the richness and diversity of Québec’s archaeological collections, the exhibition is divided into four thematic sections relating to archaeology: ancient history or prehistoric archaeology, a land of trade and commerce, chronicles of daily life, and marine archaeology.
Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History
Until January 8, 2017.

Nashville, TN

Samurai: The Way of the Warrior

Samurai: The Way of the Warrior is a dramatic and historical exhibition that examines the traditions of this legendary warrior class whose political dominance affected Japanese art and culture for nearly a thousand years. The exhibition is drawn from the rich holdings of the Museo Stibbert, a museum primarily devoted to arms and armor in Florence, Italy.  The values emphasized by the samurai included loyalty, courage, honor, and personal cultivation. During prolonged periods of peacetime and stability, the samurai increased their attention to aristocratic pastimes such as poetry, music, and tea ceremonies. This exhibition includes luxurious objects such as lacquered calligraphy and smoking boxes, an incense tray, a mother-of-pearl inlayed processional riding saddle and stirrups, and a gilded folding chair that was part of a bridal trousseau for a member of the Tokugawa shogunate clan.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts
November 4, 2015 until January 16, 2017.

New York, NY

Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd – 6th Centuries

The Six Dynasties period, from the 3rd to 6th centuries, was one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese art history, akin to the European Renaissance in the impact it had on artistic creativity and the celebration of individual expression. Over the past twenty years, archaeological excavations have unearthed extraordinary works of art, forever altering scholarly understanding of this chaotic, four-hundred-year period of political upheaval, geographical division and civil strife. Not only was the Six Dynasties period a pivotal link in the historical timeline between the Han and Tang dynasties, but it is increasingly recognized for having laid the foundation for Chinese artistic standards, genres, subjects, and important themes that continue to define Chinese art today. This exhibition will present the artistic innovations and achievements evidenced by recent archaeological findings from both the Southern and Northern Dynasties across four major disciplines: ceramics, sculpture, calligraphy and painting. Each of these disciplines provides a different glimpse into daily and ritual life during this time.
China Institute
Until March 19, 2017.

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 1, 2017.
(Please see our interview with a curator from this exhibition, which was published in 2013.)

Native American Masterpieces from from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection

An exhibition of 50 exceptional Native American works of art drawn entirely from New York’s Charles and Valerie Diker Collection—one of the most comprehensive and diverse private collections of its kind—will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning October 28. With artworks ranging in date from the second to the early 20th century, Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection will explore important artistic achievements from culturally distinct Indigenous peoples throughout the North American continent. The selected artworks demonstrate the unique visions of Indigenous artists who worked in a wide variety of aesthetic forms and media in innovative ways that defy categorization. The exhibition will make historic and regional connections between the works of art while highlighting superb and rare pieces from early periods.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Until March 19, 2017.

Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual

Featuring almost fifty objects from the Rubin Museum’s premiere collection of Nepalese art and select loans, Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual illustrates the enduring manifestation of rituals, agrarian festivals, and the natural environment in the art of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. This is the first exhibition connecting well-known deities represented in Nepalese art to rituals and festivals surrounding the rainy season, or monsoon, and highlighting the importance of the seasons to the culture and everyday life of Nepalese people. Through this lens, the exhibition will offer visitors a new understanding of the region and its art, which is already renowned for its high quality and aesthetic appeal. As life in Nepal faces ongoing threats from natural disasters and climatic changes, “Nepalese Seasons” poignantly illustrates how the country’s dependence on monsoon rain continues to play an important role in its agriculture, spirituality, social culture, and art.
Rubin Museum
Until March 27, 2017.

Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity

The Ancient Greeks and Romans contributed more than any other past civilization to the rise of time’s dominion over individual and public life. Adapting ideas from Egypt and Babylonia, they divided the day into hours, and invented sophisticated instruments and devices to mark their passage. Time and Cosmos will display over 100 objects, including ancient sundials, calendars, jewelry, and surveying instruments, and will be organized around two themes: the Tools of Time Reckoning, exploring the material resources that gave temporal structure to the daily life of private individuals as well as the community in such public spheres as religion, commerce, and law; and Reflections of Time and Cosmos, concerning ancient representations of time, the universe, and their power to shape the environment and human destiny.
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University
Until April 23, 2017.

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.

San Francisco, CA

The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe

One of the world’s greatest works of literature, the Rama epic — the 2,500-year-old classic and its many versions — teems with excitement. The story of Prince Rama’s quest to defeat a powerful demonic king, rescue his abducted wife and re-establish order in the world is also, for many, a sacred tradition. For centuries, this beloved tale has been told again and again through visual and performing arts, literature and religious teachings in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and beyond. This exhibition invites you to explore the personalities and perspectives of four main characters: Rama; his wife Sita; Rama’s faithful monkey lieutenant Hanuman; and the 10-headed demon king Ravana. Spanning the ancient to the contemporary, this major international survey of 135 artworks captures the epic in a new light. Coursing beneath the drama and fantasy of the thrilling tale, discover timeless human struggles and poignant moments that will resonate with your own story.
Asian Art Museum
Until January 15, 2017.

Toronto, ON

Syria: A Living History

Few countries have captured the world’s attention like Syria has today. Stories of conflict and displacement dominate the media and define people’s awareness of the place. Syria: A Living History brings together artifacts and artworks that tell a different story—one of cultural diversity, historical continuity, resourcefulness, and resilience. For over five millennia, this region perched on the eastern Mediterranean has witnessed great world civilizations comingling on its soil and producing art, literature, and culture that constitute the country’s rich legacy. Strongly informed by a distinctive landscape and history, artists of Syria throughout the ages have made priceless contributions to world heritage. Syria: A Living History inspires new understanding of Syria’s past and present, and invites new ways of thinking about its future.
Aga Khan Museum
Until February 26, 2017.

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.

Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan

Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan converts the Smithsonian’s International Gallery into a space that evokes the vibrant marketplace of Old Kabul with artisans demonstrating their skills in jewelry making, woodworking, calligraphy, ceramics, carpet weaving and other crafts. Afghanistan is located in the heart of ancient Silk Road trade routes, and for more than 3,500 years it blended traditions from India, Persia and Central Asia into a distinct artistic culture. Decades of civil unrest that began in the 1970s nearly destroyed this vital heritage. Artisans were often forced to leave their country or give up their craft. The Old City of Kabul — Murad Khani, the once bustling center of craft and commerce in Afghanistan’s largest metropolis — fell into ruin. To tell this transformative story of culture and heritage in Murad Khani, Afghan woodworkers have created magnificent wood arcades, screens, and a pavilion, all carved by hand from Himalayan cedar. Wander among these arcades and explore spectacular contemporary carpets, jewelry, and calligraphy, all complemented by videos and large-scale photographs of the Afghan artisans who made them. Artisans from Murad Khani are bringing the exhibition to life by demonstrating their art, sharing their experiences, and allowing visitors to encounter Afghanistan’s art and culture firsthand.
Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute
Until January 29, 2017.

United Kingdom

Birmingham, England

Buried Treasures: Uncovering Hoards

Buried treasure — and the excitement of discovering it — lies at the heart of this fascinating exhibition exploring coin hoards. The Barber Institute’s collection contains coins from no fewer than 48 hoards, of which eight will be uncovered here. These include two caches unearthed in Britain: the Dorchester Hoard, dug up during building work at the town’s Marks and Spencer; and the Appleford Hoard, unearthed by a farmer ploughing his field one new year’s eve. Telling the stories of their deposition and their discovery, the exhibition will open a mysterious doorway into Roman, Byzantine and Turkman worlds. It will prompt some intriguing questions: Who buried them and why? Who found them and how? What can these discoveries tell us about people who lived centuries ago? And what can we do as modern people to preserve this heritage?
Barbie Institute of Fine Arts
Until February 27, 2017.

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.

Liverpool, England

Animal Mummies Revealed

Discover a fascinating exhibition at World Museum, which explores ancient Egyptian animal mummies, prepared in their millions as offerings to the gods. Animal Mummies Revealed unravels the background behind this religious practice in the context of life in ancient Egypt and the environment in which the animals lived. Featuring mummified jackals, crocodiles, cats and birds, the exhibition also includes a recreation of a subterranean animal catacomb, creating an immersive and atmospheric experience.
World Museum
Until February 26, 2017.

London, England

South Africa: The Art of a Nation

In this exhibition a diverse range of art from across the ages tells a story that stretches back 100,000 years. From rock art made by the country’s earliest peoples to works by South African artists at the forefront of contemporary art, the exhibition features beautiful and important objects, which illustrate South Africa’s rich history. The exhibition features a selection of significant objects, including some of the world’s oldest art objects and striking contemporary pieces responding to the country’s recent past. See the history of a nation from a new perspective and celebrate the artistic accomplishments of the many peoples that have contributed to the story of South Africa.
British Museum
Until February 26, 2017.

Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

Vanished beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, the lost cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay at the mouth of the Nile. Named after the Greek hero Heracles, Thonis-Heracleion was one of Egypt’s most important commercial centers for trade with the Mediterranean world and, with Canopus, was a major center for the worship of the Egyptian gods. Their amazing discovery is transforming our understanding of the deep connections between the great ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. Preserved and buried under the sea for over a thousand years, the stunning objects in the exhibition range from magnificent colossal statues to intricate gold jewellery. Sacred offerings and ritual objects reveal the cult of Osiris – the god of the underworld who held the promise of eternal life. They tell stories of political power and popular belief, myth and migration, gods and kings. Journey through centuries of encounters between two celebrated cultures, meeting iconic historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hadrian and Antinous on the way. Over the last 20 years, world-renowned archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have excavated spectacular underwater discoveries using the latest technologies. They will be seen alongside fascinating objects from major Egyptian museums for the first time in the UK.
British Museum
Until November 27, 2016.

Norwich, England

Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific

The largest and most comprehensive exhibition about Fiji ever assembled, it will take the visitor on a journey through the art and cultural history of Fiji since the late 18th century. Over 270 works of art, including European paintings and historic photographs, are being loaned by exhibition partner the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge, and by the Fiji Museum, the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and museums in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Exeter, London, Maidstone, as well as Dresden and Leipzig in Germany.
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
Until February 12, 2017.

Europe & Middle East

Berlin, Germany

Dangerous Perfection: Ancient Funerary Vases from Apulia

The focal point of the exhibition is a group of 13 large, elaborately decorated vases from Ceglie del Campo near Bari in Apulia (southern Italy). As grave goods, they provide insight into the funerary customs of the indigenous population’s upper classes 2,500 years ago. The vessels are painted with a variety of scenes from Greek mythology, from sudden death in battle and war to a life of ease in Dionysian pastures. Damaged during the war and postwar period, they are now being exhibited again thanks to a six-year collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The project included careful conservation of the vessels — some in Los Angeles, others in Berlin — as well as research into the modern history of the group, which joined the holdings of the Berlin museums in 1828. In addition to offering exciting archaeological insights, the exhibition also sheds light on the first restoration treatment of the vases in the workshop of Raffaele Gargiulo, a Neapolitan restorer who added missing scenes with such mastery that contemporaries spoke of a “dangerous perfection” in his style: Gargiulo’s additions could no longer be distinguished from the ancient originals. (Nota Bene: The exhibition was shown at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from November 19, 2014 to May 11, 2015.)
Altes Museum
Until June 18, 2017.

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 December 31, 2016.

Castlebar, Ireland

The Hoard and the Sword: Echoes of the Vikings in Mayo

This exhibition explores the discovery of a hoard of silver bracelets from Cushalogurt, Kilmeena, and a Viking sword found in the River Moy at Coolcronaun. This is the largest hoard of silver arm-rings found in Ireland. Find out about their discovery, their use as jewellery and currency and who might have buried them. The Viking sword, although corroded from over a millennium in the Moy, is a fine example of late 10th century craftsmanship and its conservation is revealing more details of its past. These objects give evidence of County Mayo’s rich Viking heritage.
National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough
Until June 2017.

Doha, Qatar

Treasures of China

Terracotta soldiers from the First Emperor’s Terracotta Army will be on show at the Museum of Islamic Art where visitors will get the chance to meet the warriors who guarded a hidden empire. The exhibition will display 116 pieces dating from the Neolithic period to the Qing Dynasty, spanning over 5,000 years of China’s history. Potteries, bronzes, jades, porcelains, gold, silver, enamel and many other Chinese treasures will be on show, selected from five museums and heritage institutions from across China.
Museum of Islamic Art
Until January 7, 2017.

Florence, Italy

Splendida Minima

The Galleries of the Uffizi house the most important collection in the world of small sculptures in semi-precious stone carved chiefly in the Hellenistic and Roman eras, an extremely rare area of glyptic art. The skill, lost during the Middle Ages, was rediscovered and given a new lease on life in the Renaissance period. This exhibition — the first ever to explore this specific theme — not only brings together the entire Medici collection of micro-sculptures but also displays other works of sculpture carved in precious materials in such a way as to offer the visitor comparisons capable of highlighting the unique chromatic, technical and stylistic features of these objets d’art.
Museo degli Argenti
Until November 2, 2016.

Geneva, Switzerland

Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest

The MEG – Musée d’ethnographie de Genève – curates one of the most important Amazonian ethnographic collections in Europe, remarkable as much for the quality, provenance and cultural diversity of the objects as for their number (nearly 6,000 in total). For the first time in decades, the museum is exhibiting a wide range of objects from this region. “Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest” is a testimony to the history and plight of the indigenous peoples, who, since the first settlers set foot on their soil, have survived the encroachment of pioneer fronts, exogenous diseases, “pacification” programs, sedentarization, and missionary activities.
Musée d’ethnographie de Genève
Until January 8, 2017.

Istanbul, Turkey

Layer by Layer: Excavating the Anatolian Side of Istanbul

This exhibition features finds from the archaeological sites of Aydos, Dragos, Küçükyalı, Pendik and Samandıra, all of which are located on the Asian side. Spearheaded by the team at the Küçükyalı ArkeoPark, the exhibition contains some incredible objects from the Byzantine period.
Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi
Until December 31, 2016.

On The Fringe: The Istanbul Land Walls

This exhibition is dedicated to The Istanbul Land Walls, also called the Theodosian Walls, which were built in the beginning of the 5th century CE. Despite their original construction as structures of defense, the land walls and the areas surrounding them encapsulate a multi-layered cultural landscape that bear the traces of various events, situations and people throughout the 1600-year-long history of the city. Curated by Figen Kıvılcım Çorakbaş, the exhibition examines traces of different historical periods preserved in and around the walls, discussing the relationship between the Land Walls and the cultural landscapes that surround them. The exhibition features spiritual and religious stories associated with the walls as well as stories from people who have lived and/or are living around them and from other residents and travelers who visited them.
Research Centre for Anatolian Civilisations
Until January 2, 2017.

Jerusalem, Israel

In the Valley of David and Goliath

This exhibition reveals newly unearthed artifacts of a mysterious two-gated city from a site known only by its modern name of Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Elah Valley. These amazing finds, which date back 3,000 years, have sent the archaeology world into a frenzy by raising many fascinating questions such as: Who were the residents of this two-gated city? Were they Canaanites, Philistines, or perhaps the subjects of King David himself ? Have we found the biblical city of Sha’arayim, mentioned in the battle of David and Goliath? The excavations were conducted for seven seasons from 2007-2013, led by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yadin Chair of Archaeology at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, together with Sa’ar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Prof. Michael Hazel of the Southern Adventist University of Tennessee.
Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
Until December 31, 2016.

Paris, France

History Begins in Mesopotamia

Situated between the two great rivers, largely in what is now Iraq, Mesopotamia was the cradle of modern economics and of the writing with which history began. It was also home to the first cities and the oldest known political and administrative systems. Our present-day cities, living environment, beliefs, and imaginative ethos might be very different from those of ancient Mesopotamia, but they remain the legacy of those fundamental “firsts” of its civilization.  This is the world, at once close and at a distant remove, that the exhibition will present in the form of major artworks and newly discovered testimony to the Mesopotamia of the third to the first millennium BC. The aim is to demonstrate the fundamental importance of this world heritage, partially known to us through the Bible and rediscovered by 19th-century archaeological ventures: a heritage now under threat from the tragic situation in Iraq and the Middle East.
Louvre Lens
November 2, 2016 until January 23, 2017.

Jade, from Emperors to Art Deco

Used in China since Antiquity, jade is a material endowed with an infinity of mystical, poetic or moral metaphors. Already Confucius, in a few memorable lines, spoke of jade and the richly symbolic dimension of its material, appreciated for its hardness and the variety of its colors. What was handed down by tradition can be summed up as elegance, firmness and nobility. The exhibition’s historical survey offers an exceptional vision of the creativity and symbolism related to jade, an important expression of Chinese civilization and celebrated by the Qianlong Emperor in many poems.
Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet
Until January 16, 2017.

The Age of the Merovingians

Reflecting Roman influences and distinguished by unprecedented forms of power, the start of the Middle Ages is marked by the development of original forms of expression, which have often been overlooked. The exhibition offers a lavish panorama of the artistic and intellectual productivity of this period of three centuries, beginning with the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451 CE and culminating with the deposition of the last of the “Kings who did nothing” in 751 CE. More than 150 objects, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, works of gold and silversmiths, coins, textiles and even charters have been brought together thanks to a partnership with the National Library of France. Many masterpieces from the Cabinet des Médailles are on show, including the remains of the treasure of King Childeric I, the treasure of Gourdon and the famous throne of Dagobert I.
Musée de Cluny (Musée national du Moyen Âge)
Until February 13, 2017.

Verona, Italy

Maya: The Language of Beauty

Over 300 works coming from the leading Mexican museums will be displayed at this exhibition. The three great periods — Pre-Classic, Classic and Post-Classic — in the history of these people are told through the works of art. The Maya civilization will also be recounted through the reconstructions of architectural solutions and through objects from daily life that have survived the millennia (necklaces, earrings, musical instruments, vases and incense burners).
Palazzo Della Gran Guardia
Until March 8, 2017.

Vienna, Austria

Foreign Gods: Fascination Africa and Oceania

In the Leopold Museum’s large-scale autumn exhibition the museum’s comprehensive collection of African and Oceanic art is presented for the first time. Allowing these objects to enter into a dialogue with select works by protagonists of Classical Modernism, the presentation calls to mind Europe’s exotic art adventure and its impact on the avant-garde. For the fascination held by art from “foreign” cultures is reflected in numerous works of Classical Modernism and the museum’s founder Rudolf Leopold shared the enthusiasm that exponents of this movement had for such objects. Visitors are able to experience this first hand through the dialogue that the masks and figures enter into with works by Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brâncuși, Emil Nolde and Max Ernst. At the same time, the alienating, “primitivist” view that Modernist artists had of Africa and Oceania is questioned by the contemporary artist Kader Attia from a post-colonial perspective.
Leopold Museum
Until January 9, 2017.

Warsaw, Poland

Life in the Midst of Beauty: The World of a Chinese Scholar

Life in the Midst of Beauty: The World of a Chinese Scholar is part of exhibition exchange program between the National Museum in Warsaw and the National Museum of China. The exhibition focuses on “scholar-officials” – a special elite class in ancient Chinese society – their emergence, everyday life and painting. Over 160 objects from the National Museum of China collection, including calligraphy, painting, ceramics, jades, bronzes, furniture and textiles, will be on show.
National Museum in Warsaw
Until January 8, 2017.

Ystad, Sweden


Archaeomusica is an exhibit that takes visitors to the music’s origins and explores how our oldest history of music sounded – from the Stone Age through Pompeii to the Middle Ages. It is an exhibition for all the senses and with the help of modern technology and hundreds of restored instruments, visitors can try out, listen, and experience Europe’s earliest soundscapes. (More information and a virtual tour of the exhibition in English can be accessed here.)
Ystad Abbey
Until January 8, 2017.

East Asia/Oceania

Beijing, China

Pearls: Treasures from the Seas and the Rivers

For over thousands of years, the Arabian Gulf has always been the supplier of pearls used by monarchs in the West and the East. The exhibition will review the history of human use of pearls which can be dated back to the ancient Rome, with a span of over 2,000 years. Among all the exquisite exhibits, there is pearl jewelry designed by world-renowned designers, pearl-decorated crests of European monarchs, and all kinds of brilliant pearl accessories. It also introduces the history of the pearl industry in China and allows the visitors to feel the special charm of Chinese culture. This exhibition boasts an unprecedented variety of pearl ornaments and is widely praised during its tour in Japan, the UK, Brazil, and Turkey.
National Museum of China
Until January 8, 2017.

Nanjing, China

Pharaohs and Kings: Treasures of Ancient Egypt and China’s Han Dynasty

Pharaohs and Kings: Treasures of Ancient Egypt and China’s Han Dynasty presents over 150 objects from the Royal Ontario Museum’s ancient Egyptian collections, one of the most important in North America. They are displayed alongside 200 works from the Nanjing Museum’s Han Dynasty collections. The exhibition takes the unique, comparative approach of presenting side-by-side works of art and culture drawn from both Pharaonic and Roman Egypt (3100 BCE-395 CE) and Imperial China (3rd century BCE-3rd century CE) while exploring the two dynasties’ burial practices and beliefs on the afterlife. Beautifully designed, the presentation allows for the evaluation and comparison of diverse elements of these two ancient and highly significant cultures.  Highlights among the stunning objects loaned to the exhibition include such Royal Ontario Museum visitor favorites as a mummified cat dated to c. 30 BCE-395 CE; a mummy of Chantress of Amun, Nefer-Mut dated to c. 922—887 BC; and a large granite sculpture, likely of Cleopatra VII, dated to c. 47-30 BCE.
Nanjing Museum
Until January 9, 2017.

Perth, Australia

Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures

Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures makes its Australian debut in Perth. Feel the thrill of exploring an unknown world of magic and mystery as you embark on an unforgettable adventure into the realm of Tutankhamun, the golden pharaoh. A spectacular recreation of his tomb and his treasures including replicas of g old coffins, astonishing jewelry and stunning gilded statues, this exhibition is a must see for all ages. With authentic recreations and multimedia content, visitors to the exhibition will experience the historic moment of the legendary tomb’s discovery through the eyes of the British archaeologist, Howard Carter and view the burial chambers just as they were when he found them. This exhibition shows how fascinating it can be to gain a vivid impression of the most important archaeological discovery in the Valley of the Kings with the help of carefully crafted recreations. It successfully rises to the extraordinary challenge of reopening an original discovery site.
Perth Exhibition & Convention Centre
Until January 15, 2017.

Sydney, Australia

Sentient Lands

Australia has been shaped and defined by the past actions of ancestors, who remain a dynamic presence within the land. Drawn from the Gallery’s collection, the works in this exhibition speak of the complex, ongoing attachments to country held by Aboriginal people. Included are sculptural representations of Mimih, Purukapali and the Djang’kawu — important figures who take human form in particular areas of northern Australia – alongside images of the Wanka (spider) and Kanpaarka (centipede) that are drawn from the desert regions. There are also more abstracted depictions whose optical effects capture the movement and reverberations that are enacted across country by such forces as the Tingari. Many of these works can be considered self-portraits, such is the attachment between their maker and those to whom they are giving visual form. As artist Emily Kam Ngwarray famously exclaimed, “I am the yam.”
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Until January 31, 2017.

Nota Bene: Are you a museum press professional or curator that would like your exhibition to be included in Ancient History Encyclopedia’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: 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.