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Coffin of Bakenmut, c. 1000-900 BC. Egypt, Third Intermediate Period, late Dynasty 21- early Dynasty 22. Gessoed and painted sycamore fig; 68 x 208 cm. Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust.

CLEVELAND, OH.- After a five-year hiatus, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s (CMA) collections from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Africa, as well as works from Late Antiquity, the Byzantine Empire and the European Middle Ages, will return to public view on June 26. The new presentation will trace the evolution of the visual and cultural traditions at the roots of Western civilization and foster an understanding of the ritual, social and historical contexts within which these works of art were produced. At the same time, visitors will be encouraged to explore connections to art from other periods on view throughout the museum.

The works will be showcased in 17 newly renovated galleries, which also include dedicated spaces for the museum’s holdings of prints and drawings, in the first level of the museum’s original Beaux-Arts building, designed by Hubbell and Benes. Their unveiling will mark the next milestone in a multi-phase renovation and expansion, scheduled for completion in 2013. The project is designed by architect Rafael Viñoly and will add 200,000 square feet to the museum. Last summer, the museum celebrated the opening of the first of three new wings, a structure that unites the original building with a 1971 expansion by Marcel Breuer.

The New Galleries
Two sets of stairs lead visitors from the upper-level galleries of European and American art (reopened in 2008) down to a foyer that showcases the life-size bronze statue of the Apollo Sauroktonos attributed to Praxiteles, one of the most influential Greek artists of the Classical period. From that entry point, a chronological narrative will unfold over a 16,000-square-foot suite of galleries. Within each historical area, objects will be organized thematically to foster awareness of — and promote insights into — their function and meaning for the cultures that produced them.

“The remarkable works that will be displayed in these galleries were critical to the development of the visual arts as we know them,” says Griffith Mann, chief curator of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Our goal has been to showcase the artistic achievements of ancient cultures to their best advantage and, at the same time, integrate these objects as part of the greater museum experience.”

For the first time, the museum’s sub-Saharan African collections will be displayed in spaces contiguous to the galleries of ancient Egyptian art so that the works produced on the African continent can be seen and studied together. Surrounding galleries are connected by larger cultural and historical arcs, allowing visitors to move from the burgeoning civilizations of the ancient Near East to the seafaring culture of the Greek world and the rise of the Roman empire, which adopted and reinvented the artistic and religious traditions of its predecessors.

In adjoining galleries, visitors will encounter Byzantine and western medieval art in installations that forge connections to the ritual and ceremonial functions of the works on view. First-person narratives incorporated in introductory text panels throughout the galleries, as well as via a new audio tour, will connect contemporary audiences with ancient and medieval voices.

The new first-level galleries will feature approximately 900 works acquired from the museum’s charter days in the early 20th century through to the present. Highlights include:

• Statuette of a Woman: The Stargazer, c. 3000 BC, probably from Anatolia, the Asian part of modernday Turkey, the earliest sculpture of the human figure in the museum;

• Winged Genie Pollinating Date Palm, 883-859 BC, Iraq, Nimrud, Assyrian, reign of Ashurnasirpal II, speaks of the large numbers of prisoner-slaves who built the vast palace that served as the original setting of the relief, recently cleaned and conserved for the installation;

• Female Worshipper, c. 1600-1500 BC, Crete, Minoan, Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan I, an extremely rare bronze statuette in excellent condition;

• The Emperor as Philosopher, probably Marcus Aurelius (reigned AD 161-180), c. 175-200, Turkey, Roman, among the finest large bronze sculptures to have survived the Greco-Roman age;

• The Jonah Marbles, c. 280-290, Asia Minor, probably Phrygia (Central Turkey), Early Christian, a unique sculptural ensemble believed to have been unearthed together and known for its quality and excellent condition;

• Chalice from the Beth Misona Treasure, c. 500-700, Byzantium, Syria or Constantinople, named for the village in Syria where it was made;

• Statue of Heqat, the Frog Goddess, c. 3050-2900 BC, Egypt, Predynastic Period, Late Naqada III Period to Early Dynastic Period, Early Dynasty 1 (2950-2573 BC), marks the beginning of the great tradition of animal sculpture in Egyptian art;

• Icon of the Virgin and Child, 500s, Egypt, Byzantine period, a unique surviving Coptic tapestry;

• Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer), c. 350-275 BC; attributed to Praxiteles, the only known life-size bronze version of the Apollo Sauroktonos, possibly viewed by Pliny the Elder in the first century AD and cited in his writings; and

• Staff of Office (kibango), late 1700s-early 1800s, Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba peoples, one of the Luba King’s most important royal attributes.

CMA’s Renovation and Expansion
The opening of the first-level galleries marks the completion of CMA’s restoration of its original building. In 2008, the museum opened the upper-level galleries, culminating the first phase in the renovation and expansion project.

“The refurbished galleries will create a beautiful, Classical space perfectly married to our collections of antiquities and will allow visitors to see these works in a new light,” says CMA Interim Director Deborah Gribbon. “Although this moment finds us looking back in history to our cultural and artistic foundations, it is the next step in a program that will transform the Cleveland Museum of Art.”

When the building project is completed, the facility will include the museum’s two fully renovated architectural landmarks, the 1916 Beaux-Arts building and Breuer’s 1971 addition with its distinctive façade of alternating light and dark grey granite stripes, as well as Viñoly’s two new striped marble and granite wings on the east and west sides of the complex. Each ending in a dramatic glass-box gallery, the wings will offer panoramic views of the museum’s park setting, as well as views into the museum galleries and conservation studios. A third new 39,000-square-foot structure will form the north side of a large courtyard with a glass canopy crowning an atrium at the center of the complex.

Components of the project include:

• The renovation of two architecturally significant buildings — the museum’s original building, designed by Hubbell and Benes and opened to the public in 1916, and the 1971 Center for Arts and Education designed by Marcel Breuer;

• The addition of 200,000 square feet to the facility, including three new wings;

• The creation of a 39,000-square-foot glass-enclosed atrium that will unite the entire complex and serve as the visual and spatial heart of the museum;

• The creation of a new Lifelong Learning Center that brings the museum’s collection to life in innovative ways through interactive, hands-on activities for museum visitors of all ages;

• Improved visitor amenities, including parking with covered access to the museum, a spacious new café and restaurant and an expanded museum store;

• Enhanced facilities for storage and study of the collection;

• New state-of-the-art conservation studios;

• New offices and workrooms; and

• Additional space to house the Ingalls Library and a new, light-filled reading room and reference area.

Visitors enter through the Breuer building which reopened after extensive renovations in late 2006. Now named the Center for Arts and Education, this building has been rededicated to the service of the museum’s educational programs. For the first time, all of CMA’s education and library resources have been consolidated into a single building. The re-designed museum complex greatly enhances access to art, education facilities and performing arts events. Visitors will be able to move easily from the Breuer building into the new atrium and the 1916 building just beyond. Connections to the east and west wings will be available on the first and second floors.

The founding vision of the Cleveland Museum of Art was to create a beautiful setting for what would become one of this country’s great encyclopedic art collections, as well as to make this experience accessible to everyone, free of charge. Over time, as its collection grew and educational programs expanded, the museum evolved into a mosaic of buildings and the clarity of the original architecture was lost. Additions were completed in 1958, 1971 and 1983.

The original Beaux-Arts building, widely acknowledged as one of the finest museum designs of the early 20th century, became peripheral and navigation through the galleries became increasingly challenging. Many parts of the complex were in need of extensive renovations. The capital project currently underway will transform the museum’s physical layout and infrastructure and significantly improve both the visitor experience and the storage and presentation of the collection.

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Statuette of a Woman: "The Stargazer", probably from Anatolia (the Asian part of modern-day Turkey), 3rd Millennium BC. Marble, 17.20 x 6.50 x 6.30 cm. Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund; John L. Severance Fund

This statuette is the earliest sculpture of the human figure in the Museum. Whether it is a cult object or a funerary figure is unknown. The preliterate Stone Age civilization that produced it left no written records. This type of figure is called a stargazer because its tiny eyes look up towards the heavens, a source of divine forces for most ancient cultures.

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Female Worshipper, c. 1600-1500 BC, Crete, Minoan, Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan I, Bronze, 14.00 cm. Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund

This extremely rare Minoan bronze statuette represents a girl worshipping a deity. It was probably left as a dedication to a divinity. She wears a flounced skirt over a sleeved robe open at the front. The figure shows a remarkable degree of detail, including looped earrings, bracelets, and a necklace. Her shaved hairstyle, not found on any other Minoan bronze statuette, matches that of painted figures in roughly contemporary frescoes uncovered on the island of Thera, north of Crete. Its excellent condition, rarity, fine detail, and balanced proportions set it apart from other statuettes of its type to have survived.

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The Emperor as Philosopher, probably Marcus Aurelius (reigned AD 161-180), c. 175-200, Turkey, Roman. Bronze, 193.00 cm. Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund

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Jonah Cast Up, c. 280-290. Asia Minor, probably Phrygia (Central Turkey), Early Christian, third century. Marble, 41.5 x 36 x 18.5 cm. John L. Severance Fund

The biblical story of Jonah, evoking resurrection, life after death, and salvation, held deep meaning for Christians of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Christ himself referenced the Jonah story as a prefiguration of his own death and resurrection. Although the image of Jonah is known in wall paintings and relief sculpture, here it is uniquely represented as a free-standing marble figure in which Jonah is depicted being expelled from the belly of a great fish, a symbol of resurrection. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. —from the Gospel of Matthew 12:40

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Chalice from the Beth Misona Treasure, c. 500-700, Byzantium, Syria or Constantinople, Silver, Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund

The four objects form what is now called the Beth Misona Treasure, named for the village in Syria where they were made. Each of the three chalices bears a portrait bust of Christ, the Virgin, and Saints Peter and Paul. The Greek inscription along the rim of one of the chalices reads: The priest Kyriakos, son of Domnos [has presented this chalice] to Saint Sergios, under Zeno the priest. The paten was produced by hammering and turning on a lathe. Its inscription reads: Having vowed, Domnos, son of Zacheos, has offered [this paten] to Saint Sergios of the village of Beth Misona.

Inscription: the Greek inscription at the top, under an engraved line translates as: + The priest, KYRIAKOS, son of DOMNOS, (gave this chalice) to St. Sergios, in the time of Zeno the priest.

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Statue of Heqat, the Frog Goddess, c. 3050-2900 BC, Egypt, Predynastic Period, Late Naqada III Period to Early Dynastic Period, Early Dynasty 1 (2950-2573 BC), Travertine, 15.40 x 14.70 x 15.50 cm. Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund

This statue marks the beginning of a great tradition of animal sculpture in Egyptian art. The eyes are large and dome-shaped, the body compact and massive. In addition, the sculptor has shown great sensitivity to the natural banding of the stone, using it to enhance the roundness of the frog's form. Large-scale animal sculptures of such early date are extremely rare. Small frogs, mostly of faience, are among the most common votive offerings deposited at early temple sites. The frog's exact religious significance in the Predynastic Period is unknown, but in later times it was most often identified with Heqat, the goddess who assisted at childbirth.

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Icon of the Virgin and Child, 500s, Egypt, Byzantine period. slit-and dovetailed-tapestry weave; wool, 178.70 x 110.50 cm. Leoard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund.

Inscription: on the lintel of the architectural setting, the Greek inscription translates as: The Holy Michael, The Holy Mary, The Holy Gabriel. The wide foliate border is decorated with fruits and flowers and, in the lower part, with medallions containing the busts of apostles whose names are inscribed nearby in Greek and are translated as: Andrew, Matthew, Paul the Apostle, Luke, James, Phillip, Mark, Thomas, John, Matthias, Peter, and Bartholomew.

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Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer), c. 350-275 BC; attributed to Praxiteles, Bronze, copper and stone inlay, 150.00 x 50.30 x 66.80 cm. Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund

Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer) and Praxiteles. Although Praxiteles was more successful, and therefore more famous for his marble sculptures, he nevertheless also created very beautiful works in bronze…. He made a youthful Apollo called the Sauroktonos (Lizard-Slayer), waiting in ambush for a creeping lizard, close at hand, with an arrow. -Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 34.69ff., 1st century ad This life-size bronze statue of the Apollo Sauroktonos may be the statue the Roman author Pliny the Elder saw in the 1st century ad. The complete sculpture most likely showed the young god pulling back a slender laurel tree with his raised left hand, while holding an arrow at waist level with his right, posed to strike the lizard creeping up the tree. Two Roman marble copies preserve the composition, one in the Louvre (see photo), the other in the Vatican. Here the tree, the right arm from above the elbow, and the left arm from the shoulder are missing. The left hand and part of the forearm, as well as the lizard survive, detached from the figural group (see adjacent case). The flat bronze base is not ancient, dating to about the 17th to the 19th century. The museum's sculpture is the only known life-size bronze version of the Apollo Sauroktonos. Technical features-such as the way the sculpture was cast and repaired in antiquity, the copper inlays of the lips and nipples, and the stone insert for the right eye (the left is a restoration)-are consistent with a date in the Late Classical period (about 370-330 bc). However, because bronzecasting techniques changed so little, it may have been possible to produce such a work in the subsequent Hellenistic or Roman periods. The finest large Classical Greek statues were bronzes, but few have survived. If this sculpture is a product of Praxiteles' workshop, it is the only large Greek bronze statue that can be attributed to a Greek sculptor. Praxiteles ranks with Phidias, Polyclitus, and Lysippus as one of the greatest sculptors of Classical Greece. He was widely popular in his day (active about 380/70-330/25 bc), and his fame has endured to the present day. His Aphrodite of Cnidus (about 350/40 bc) introduced the nude female figure to Western art. The Apollo Sauroktonos is thought to have been created by Praxiteles about 350 bc. An androgynous sensuality and languid and gracefully curved poses are hallmarks of his style, seen in several Roman copies of lost Praxitelean originals. Installation made possible through the generosity of Harriet Warm.

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Staff of Office (kibango), late 1700s-early 1800s, Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba peoples. Wood, 170.00 cm. John L. Severance Fund.

Acquired in the field by British missionary Frederick Stanley Arnot in 1888, this staff was one of the Luba king’s most important royal attributes. At the time of his investiture, the king grasped the staff when he swore his oath of office. Sanctified by a ritual specialist and enhanced with medicinal substances, the staff possessed supernatural qualities and was endowed with healing power. When "read" like a sculptural map from top to bottom, the staff also served to narrate the life and family history of a particular leader. The female figures on the staff’s middle portion may represent founders of specific royal lines. Such imagery on male emblems points to the political and religious importance of women in Luba society.