Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans
of the Classical World Brought to New Light in University of Pennsylvania
Museum's Renovated Galleries
of Museum's Roman and Etruscan Galleries to Open on March 16,
PA...On Sunday, March 16, 2003, with fanfare and celebration,
the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
(UPM) will inaugurate the major re-installation of its Roman and
Etruscan galleries and herald the completion of its nearly 10-year
program to present its unique classical collections in a modern,
The UPMs grand Opening Day Celebration of Worlds
Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans will take place from
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission is free. (Please see more specifics
below.) The Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia,
PA. Call 215-898-4000.
Totally renovated, The Etruscan World and The Roman World galleries
will be aided by a brand new Introduction to the Classical World
gallery and a newly-produced video designed to orient visitors
geographically, chronologically and culturally to the civilizations
of ancient Italy and Greece. The Etruscan World gallery will be
the only comprehensive exhibit of Etruscan objects currently on
display in the United States.
Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans is a multi-million
dollar project that completes the suite of four permanent classical
galleries at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. (The Greek
World gallery opened in 1994.) The new galleries invite the visitor
to explore the rich, interconnected and intertwined cultures of
the sun-drenched ancient Mediterranean -- and to discover anew
how these cultures continue to influence and inspire our world
More than one thousand ancient artifacts including marble
and bronze sculptures, jewelry, metalwork, mosaics, glass vessels,
gold and silver coins, and pottery of exceptional artistic and
historical renown tell the remarkable story of the Etruscan
peoples, the first great rulers of central Italy (800-100 BC),
and their empire-building Roman successors (500 BC- AD 500). Many
of these objects have never before been on public display. They
are drawn from the Museums outstanding Mediterranean collection
of more than 30,000 objects, dating from 3000 BC to the 5th century
The earliest classical galleries, installed when the University
of Pennsylvania Museum opened in 1899, displayed objects in a
typical 19th century eclectic manner. The next major installations
were in the 1920s and again in the 1950s, presented
in the exhibition styles of their times.
"These newly-renovated galleries are part of the ongoing
modernization of the Museum," says Dr. Jeremy
Sabloff, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. "We
are delighted to be able to invite visitors to explore and discover
the classical world in a way that shows its enduring legacy."
"We want the visitor to go away with a better sense of who
these ancient classical peoples were -- and how their vision of
the world continues to influence us today," said Dr. Donald
White, Curator-in-Charge of the Museum's Mediterranean Section.
Many objects on display in Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks,
and Romans come from recorded excavations and are rich with information
about their context. Of special importance are artifact groups
from the Etruscan tomb groups excavated at Narce and Vulci, Roman
statuary from the Sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis on the shores
of Lake Nemi, south of Rome, and sculpture and architectural decoration
from the Museum's own excavations at Minturnae, north of Naples.
Like The Greek World gallery, The Etruscan World and The Roman
World galleries exhibit culturally and artistically important
objects thematically, allowing visitors to draw parallels and
make comparisons among the cultures. Topics such as ancient religion
and the pagan gods, commerce and trade, daily life, written language,
and death and burial are explored through text, maps, models and
the artifacts themselves.
THE ETRUSCAN WORLD GALLERY
The Etruscan people and their long-lived civilization are known
from contemporary Greek commentary much of which painted
a decadent portrait of these people and through their own
sophisticated and remarkable art and artifacts, mostly unearthed
from Etruscan tombs. The Etruscan civilization has received a
significant renaissance of interest in recent years, as archaeologists
and historians work to understand the Etruscans unique language
and customs and to elucidate the Etruscan contributions to Roman
culture especially Roman numerals and the Latin alphabet,
religious rituals, concepts of city planning and tiled roofs.
UPMs Etruscan collection is among the finest in the United
States and encompasses the full range of Etruscan culture from
the 8th century BC to the final days of Etruscan civilization
in the 1st century BC.
Highlights from The Etruscan World include exceptionally fine
bucchero pottery, fired dark gray and black in shapes that recall
luxury metalwork. There are grand carved sarcophagi and ash urns
with detailed sculptured images of Etruscan men and women. Terracotta
architectural ornaments from temples, some adorned with relief
heads, evoke the intriguing world of Etruscan religion and mythology.
Granulated and filigreed gold jewelry, as elegant today as in
antiquity, give evidence of high technical skills.
Engraved gems, bronze statuettes, arms and armor, and terracotta
vessels all point to a once-prosperous and influential culture.
A brief audio segment invites the visitor to hear the unusual
sounds of the Etruscan language. Six rare Etruscan inscriptions
are on display in this gallery, with an explanation of the importance
of the Etruscan language for understanding who these people were
and where they came from.
At the height of their civilization in the late 8th through 6th
centuries BC, the Etruscans gained wealth from their rich mines
and lively trade with their neighbors, including the Greeks. The
Etruscans greatly admired and collected Greek art and, in fact,
most of the exceptional Greek pottery in The Greek World gallery
comes from Etruscan tombs. This "intertwined" relationship
between the Greeks and the Etruscans is a key theme of the new
THE ROMAN WORLD GALLERY
Dominating the new Roman World gallery is an internationally famous
military relief, once part of a commemorative arch for the emperor
Trajan, erected in AD 102 at ancient Puteoli near Naples. This
monumental sculpture is also a prime example of Roman politics
combined with Roman practicality the opposite side of the
marble block contains an earlier inscription honoring the emperor
Domitian. Visitors can see how the inscription was painstakingly,
but incompletely, chiseled off after Domitian's assassination
and official disgrace by the Roman Senate in AD 96.
The artistic, commercial and technical achievements of the Romans
are evident in The Roman World gallery, which is filled with marble
sculptures, including a highly unusual head from a cult statue
of the goddess Diana as well as other deities, priests and men
and women of the Roman Republic and Empire. Numerous bronzes,
including several 19th century cast replicas of objects excavated
at Pompeii and Herculaneum and given to UPM by department store
founder and Museum board member John Wanamaker in 1904, enhance
the display of Roman domestic life.
Beautiful miniature engraved gems, jewelry and gold and silver
coins reveal much of the artistic skills of the Romans through
their exquisite detail and craftsmanship. Objects from the Museum's
celebrated Roman glass collection -- an exhibition of which recently
traveled nationally -- offer colorful and sparkling reminders
of the sophistication of Roman taste and style. Amphoras from
the 1950s explorations of the renowned Jacques Cousteau
off the coast of Marseilles tell part of the story of Roman maritime
trade. Portraits of Roman women, perfume vials, jewelry and cosmetic
implements fill out the theme of women in Roman society, while
portraits of children and their toys offer insight into the lives
of children in the Roman world.
Objects from the houses of Roman men and women, their dining vessels
and household decoration, such as painted wall plasters and mosaics,
as well as utilitarian objects -- the lead pipes that brought
them drinking water -- are seen in the section of The Roman World
gallery on domestic life. The centerpiece of this part of the
gallery is a 4 ft. x 2 ft. model of a Roman house of the type
excavated at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Visitors can hear the "voice"
of Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect, describing variations
in housing design.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CLASSICAL WORLD GALLERY
Visitors enter the Worlds Intertwined galleries through An Introduction
to the Classical World that sets these ancient Mediterranean cultures
in time and space, even as it challenges the viewer to look around
and see the enduring legacy of the classical world in modern architecture,
philosophy, politics, mathematics, commerce, language and art.
An adjacent video theatre shows a new 10-minute video, produced
for the Museum, focusing on the legacies of the classical world
right here in Philadelphia.
THE GREEK WORLD GALLERY (opened in 1994)
The storied world of the ancient Greeks is explained through exquisite
painted vases with depictions of ancient gods and myths, bronze
armor, marble sculptures and coinage. The 400-plus objects displayed
in this gallery come from the Greek homeland, the early colony
foundations of the Greeks, Etruscan tombs and far-flung outposts
of the empire of Alexander the Great. Setting the format for the
newest galleries, The Greek World is organized into thematic sections,
including religion, daily life, commerce and trade, and death
WORLDS INTERTWINED: ETRUSCANS, GREEKS, AND ROMANS
Reminiscent of the sunny Mediterranean, the newly renovated classical
galleries of the University of Pennsylvania Museum make ample
use of light -- through windows, the re-creation of an original
skylight and enhanced lighting installations. The Museum building
itself is a Victorian-era, eclectic-style structure designed by
Wilson Eyre that incorporates classical elements, including the
arched windows in these galleries.
Dr. Donald White, Curator-in-Charge of the Museums Mediterranean
Section, served as co-curator of Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans,
Greeks, and Romans along with Dr. Ann Blair Brownlee, Senior Research
Scientist in the Mediterranean Section, and Dr. Irene Bald Romano,
Research Associate in the Mediterranean Section, who also served
as coordinator for this project. Etruscan scholar Dr. Jean MacIntosh
Turfa is the curatorial consultant for The Etruscan World.
A Guide to The Etruscan and Roman Worlds at the University
of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology accompanies
the new exhibitions. ($14.95, paperback; $29.95, cloth.112 pages,
including color illustrations. University Museum Publications.
Available at the Museum Shop or by direct order 1-800-537-5487.)
Funding for the $3 million project of renovation and reinstallation
of the classical galleries and accompanying programs has come
from a variety of sources: The National Endowment for the Arts,
the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania, the William B. Dietrich Foundation, the Samuel
H. Kress Foundation and many other foundations, corporations and
individuals. Major funding for The Etruscan World gallery was
provided by a generous anonymous donor. The Greek World gallery
has been refreshed with a new coat of paint and improved lighting
through the generosity of the Hellenic University Clubs of Philadelphia
and Wilmington and the Karabots Foundation.
Especially gratifying for the Museum has been the support of
the Italian-American community in Philadelphia who raised the
funds for The Roman World gallery, named in honor of Andrew N.
Farnese, Esq., a distinguished son of Italy and citizen of Philadelphia.
The Etruscan World gallery has been named in honor of Kyle M.
Phillips, Jr. (1934-1988), a noted American archaeologist who
excavated the important Etruscan site of Murlo.
The renovation of the galleries was undertaken by the architectural
firm of Atkin, Olshin, Lawson-Bell and Associates, with construction
supervision by Turner Construction Company. The exhibition was
designed by Staples and Charles, Ltd., in collaboration with John
T. Murray, head of the Museum's Exhibition Department. Avalon
Exhibits, Inc. fabricated the exhibition furniture and graphics.
Conservation of objects was by the Museum's Conservation Department
under the direction of Virginia Greene, with the assistance of
freelance conservator Tamsen Fuller.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum has planned an exciting
array of public programs "A Classical Year"
which began in Summer 2002 and continues through 2003. Designed
to attract visitors of all ages, upcoming special events include
a triumphant Gala "Return to Rome"organized
by the UPM Womens Committee on Saturday evening, March 15
and an Opening Day Celebration for families on Sunday, March 16
from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Opening Day on March 16 will feature an encampment of soldiers
legions from "The Roman Imperial Army in North America,"
theatrical presentations, and a fashion show of ancient costumes.
There will be demonstrations of ancient crafts including glassmaking,
bead-making, and topiary art. Penn athletes will demonstrate some
of the events of the ancient Olympic games, with commentary by
a Museum scholar. Colorful performances by Greek and Italian music
and dance groups and a café menu with ancient Roman and
Greek-inspired foods will add to the festivities.
Winter/Spring 2003 programs include an evening with mystery
novelist Steven Saylor on January 23; five weekends of original
theater-in-the-galleries by the Vagabond Acting Troupe (March
16 through April 13); an international symposium "The
Etruscans Revealed: New Perspectives on Pre-Roman Italy,"
March 28 and 29; a concert of works inspired by the classical
world performed by the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia on
March 29; childrens workshops; lectures; and gallery tours.
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