“Homecoming. Cycladic Treasures On Their Return Journey”
15 Cycladic antiquities of unique archaeological value are presented for the first time internationally, in Athens, at the Museum of Cycladic Art from November 3rd, 2022 till October 31st, 2023.
The exhibition is the first step of the historic agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (The Met).
The exhibition “Homecoming. Cycladic treasures on their return journey” is presented by the Museum of Cycladic Art in collaboration with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and is the first step of the historic agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Museum of Cycladic Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (The Met), which was ratified by the Greek Parliament on September 9, 2022. The agreement foresees the gradual return to Greece of 161 Early Cycladic antiquities of unique archaeological value of the American collector Leonard Stern. 15 of these antiquities are presented for the first time internationally, in Athens, at the Museum of Cycladic Art. Following this, the entire collection will be exhibited at The Met, before the final return of the entirety of these antiquities to Greece, their country of origin.
The exhibition “Homecoming. Cycladic treasures on their return journey” will last until October 31, 2023. The exhibition presents rare exhibits which will bring new scientific knowledge to Early Cycladic art. Among them, there are types that could be described as unique, either as a whole or in their individual morphological characteristics, as they have not appeared before in the corpus of the known works of Early Cycladic culture.
The antiquities presented –ten marble figurines and five vases made of marble, steatite and clay– cover a wide chronological range, from the times of the Late Neolithic period to those of the Early Cycladic II period (c. 5300 – 2400/2300 BC). The figurines depict solely the female figure and belong to types and varieties corresponding to the styles of each period (schematic, precanonical, canonical), while the vases represent some of the most characteristic types of vessels covering the entire Early Cycladic period.
As stated by the President and CEO of the Museum of Cycladic Art, Kassandra Marinopoulou: “An exceptional and largely unknown collection of Cycladic antiquities by the American collector Leonard N. Stern, with rare and unique artefacts progressively makes its way back home. This is a historic moment for our country, for the Museum of Cycladic Art, but also for me personally, as we are participating in an unprecedented collaboration with the Greek State and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, contributing, thus, to the return of 161 Cycladic masterpieces and paving the way for the return of other antiquities in the future. We strongly believe that collaborations between museums is the only way forward.
The dissemination and promotion of Cycladic and ancient Greek culture internationally has always been the mission of the Museum of Cycladic Art. I feel very proud because this mission is now being fulfilled to the utmost, both with the present exhibition of the first 15 antiquities at the Museum of Cycladic Art and with those that will follow the same path both to Greece and the USA. The prospects for further cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and The Met at various levels, especially through the deeper study of the Cycladic culture, scientific analyses and collaborations, will greatly contribute to the achievement of this goal”.
As stated by the Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Max Hollein:
“The mission of The Met is to enable art to be enjoyed and studied. We are thrilled to celebrate this important milestone in the historic partnership with Greece that brings an important collection of Cycladic antiquities into the public sphere permanently and for the first time. This agreement builds on years of a fruitful partnership between the Greek government and The Met, and we are delighted to be able to play a role in an arrangement that will benefit visitors and scholars for generations to come. We are deeply grateful to Leonard N. Stern for dedicating funds to The Met for the study of these exceptional works and related archival material—which will allow us to thoroughly catalogue and publish the collection—and we are excited to present the entire group of 161 objects as a long-term loan in 2024. The Met extends special thanks to Greece and the Museum of Cycladic Art for our strong partnership and for authorizing this historic loan, and we look forward to continuing our ongoing conversations about future exchanges of scholarship and expertise. We all benefit from the public display of art.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual scientific catalogue, which includes an introductory text on the Early Cycladic culture of the 3rd millennium BC, as well as a detailed and documented presentation of the 15 Early Cycladic antiquities, along with unique photographs of the exhibits themselves and of the Cycladic landscape.
Memorandum of Understanding among the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Hellenic Republic, the Museum of Cycladic Art and The Met, about the promotion of research and study of Cycladic Culture
As part of the abovementioned agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Hellenic Republic, the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the 2nd of November, with subject the advancement of the study and research of Early Cycladic Culture. The MOU was signed in Athens,by the Minister of Culture and Sports of the Hellenic Republic, Ms. Lina Mendoni, the President and CEO of the Museum of Cycladic Art, Ms. Kassandra Marinopoulou and the Director of The Met, Mr. Max Hollein.
As part of the memorandum, scholarships, publications, international symposia, field word and the creation of a digital corpus of Cycladic Artifacts which are in Museums worldwide, have been agreed. The data base will belong to the Ministry, will be developed by both the Ministry and the Museum of Cycladic Art and will be linked to The Met.
THE EARLY CYCLADIC CULTURE
The nature and significance of the Early Cycladic culture are not easy to determine. The latter flourished in the Cyclades, in the central Aegean, during the 3rd millennium BC. The absence of written sources and the fact that a large number of these objects did not come to light through systematic excavations, leave the interpretation about their meaning and purpose open. Created by the island communities, these artefacts –especially the marble figurines– allow for a more effective consideration of the Cycladic societies.
As works of an anthropocentric culture, they mainly depict naked female figures and constitute the most characteristic creation of Early Cycladic art. Despite their abstraction and simplicity, essential characteristics have been preserved and have become the greatest source of inspiration for important Modernist artists.
THE MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART
The Museum of Cycladic Art is a non-profit legal entity under private law, supervised by the Ministry of Culture. It receives no state funding, and its collections belong to the Greek State. Ιts mission is to promote Aegean civilization (from 4000 BC) and to disseminate its art, both locally and internationally, highlighting the evolution of art and its different manifestations, including contemporary art exhibitions revealing the outstanding ways in which antiquity has influenced the present.
In particular, the Museum focuses on promoting the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, with particular emphasis on Cycladic art of the third millennium BC. It was founded in 1986 to house the figurines it is renowned for, which have inspired artists of the 20th century, such as Brancusi, Modigliani, Giacometti, Hepworth and Moore. The Museum’s permanent collections include more than 3,000 Cycladic, ancient Greek, and ancient Cypriot artefacts, witnesses to the cultures that flourished in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean from the fourth millennium BC to approximately the sixth century AD. Exhibits from the Museum’s permanent collections have been hosted at some of the greatest museums worldwide, like Tokyo (National Museum of Western Art), Kyoto (National Museum), Houston (The Museum of Fine Arts), Brussels (Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire), London (The British Museum), Paris (Galeries nationales du Grand Palais), New York (Onassis Foundation), Madrid (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia), Rome (Musei Capitolini), Beijing (Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City), and Istanbul (Sakip Sabanci Museum).
The temporary exhibitions of the Museum of Cycladic Art focus on archaeology, modern and contemporary art, aiming to introduce the public not only to antiquity but also to important 20th and 21st century artists and explore the links between ancient cultures and modern and contemporary artistic creation. The Museum has invited artists and curators from all over the world to study and get inspired by its collections, creating a dialogue between ancient artefacts and the creations of our times. So far, the Museum has hosted exhibitions on Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Struth, Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Lucas, Ugo Rondinone, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Ai Weiwei, Cy Twombly, George Condo and Βrice Marden, among others.
General Entrance: 12€
Εntrance only to the exhibition: 6€
Free entrance for the Friends of the Museum of Cycladic Art
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