Friday, May 07, 2010

2300-year-old Egyptian noblewoman centerpiece of renovated Nelson-Atkins gallery

The burial treasures of a 2300-year-old Egyptian noblewoman named Meretites, which means "beloved of her father", is the centerpiece of the newly reopened Egyptian gallery at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Robert Cohon, curator of art of the ancient world at the Nelson-Atkins points out that the arrangement of the art and subtle lighting is intended to give the impression of a tomb without being frightening.

"We want children to come in here, and want to know more," Cohon said. They will see the inner coffin painted with a huge golden-faced, blue-haired Meretites, as well as the myriad Egyptian gods and goddesses there for her journey into the afterworld." 

"Egyptian art has been a surreptitious pleasure for so many," Cohon continues. "This may also be a child's first exposure to death."

I was so excited to read about the Nelson-Atkins $1.7 million renovation.  They sound like they have a wonderful ancient art collection that spans over 4,000 years and there is a chance I may be going to Kansas City in July. 

[Image courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art]

My husband expressed his wish to go to the Military Vehicles Preservation Association national conference that is being held in Kansas City this year.  Its still a little iffy, though, with the gas prices climbing towards $4 a gallon again.  If there wasn't a possibility that he would buy some vehicle or large part, we could take my little fuel-efficient Scion but if we're attending a MVPA event, we'll probably need to take my husband's truck in case he wants to drag something back to Oregon.  At least now I have as much motivation to go as he does!

In addition to the funerary art of  Meretites that was purchased from a German collection back in 2007, the Egyptian galleries includes stone portraits of famous kings and queens from Sesostris III to Ramses II, from Nefertiti to the Ptolemies.  The museum's website points out that none of their recent purchases are contested by Egypt so they won't be in danger of repatriation.

Their Near Eastern collection includes grave goods from kings and queens of Ur and sculptures from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud as well as the ceremonial center of the Persian Empire, Persepolis.  It will be interesting to compare their artifacts to those on display at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

The museum's Roman collection apparently centers on works of art from the second century CE created during the reigns of the emperors Hadrian and Severus.  Their Greek collection mentions a sculpture of a young athlete.  I couldn't find an image of it but wonder if it is engaged in a particular sport or is more of a representation of a victorious youth?  

Steven Holl: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Bloch Building  Funerary Art of Ancient Egypt  The Severans: The Roman Empire Transformed  Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome   Assyrian Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II: A Cultural Biography   Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia