The past returns as over 250 works from 4,000 years of artistic achievement in the Mediterranean region come together in the beautiful Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art. With over 70 exceptional loans from private collections and public institutions around the world complementing the museum’s own rich holdings, this display traces the origins and early development of Western art from the dawn of the third millennium BC to the time of the great Byzantine Empire.
The sunlit galleries encircling a central courtyard take visitors on a journey through the beginnings of Western art. Opening the installation are the exquisite copper statuette of a striding figure cast in the ancient Near East some 5,000 years ago and a copper alloy statuette of Sobek, a crocodile-headed god from Egypt created nearly three millennia ago. Both works serve as reminders that the highly developed cultures of the ancient Near East and Egypt had a deep and rich influence on the Greek and Roman art displayed in these galleries.
From these anchors, the journey continues with a chronological display of beautifully decorated Greek vases that provide glimpses into the rich lives of ancient gods and mortals. Sumptuous jewelry of the Hellenistic period gives way to a stunning display of sculptures created in Egypt during the centuries when it was ruled by the successors of Alexander the Great. The realistic portraiture of ancient Rome is followed by the opulence of Byzantine art and the new aesthetic developed under the growing power of the Christian church. The galleries conclude with a special selection of large marble statues that reflect the influence of Greek art on Roman sculptors.
These extraordinary works in the Jaharis Galleries come together to present an expansive view of the early development of Western art across time and place, exploring the cultural influences and historical context of each period while telling the rich stories of those who lived in the ancient world, from rulers to gods to everyday people.