If You Happen To Be In New York City

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History can be dry, except when in the hands of masterful story-tellers. Which reminds us of James, and other scholars who have graced these pages in recent years with practical stories of the past linked to our present day lives. The value of this Pergamon exhibition (click the image above to go to the museum’s description of the exhibition) catches our attention because this review, which exemplifies the sort of interpretation that allows history to jump into our present tense:

…This tidal wave of wealth sloshed all around the eastern Mediterranean during the three centuries that followed, the era known today as the Hellenistic Age. It soaked the shores of the half-dozen new kingdoms carved out of Alexander’s conquests…

Read the description of this exhibition below, in the words of the Met’s curators, to get a renewed sense of the important role museums play in our civic lives.

The conquests of Alexander the Great transformed the ancient world, making trade and cultural exchange possible across great distances. Alexander’s retinue of court artists and extensive artistic patronage provided a model for his successors, the Hellenistic kings, who came to rule over much of his empire. For the first time in the United States, a major international loan exhibition will focus on the astonishing wealth, outstanding artistry, and technical achievements of the Hellenistic period—the three centuries between Alexander’s death, in 323 B.C., and the establishment of the Roman Empire, in the first century B.C.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 exhibition represents a historic collaboration between The Met and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, whose celebrated sculptures will comprise approximately one-third of the works on view. Numerous prominent museums in Greece, the Republic of Italy, other European countries, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States will also be represented, often through objects that have never before left their museum collections.

The exhibition is made possible by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Betsy and Edward Cohen / Areté Foundation.

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