Chicago, IL.- Four thousand years of artistic achievement in the ancient Mediterranean world are on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in the beautiful new Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, opened to the public on November 11, 2012.
A special preview took place on Saturday November 10, followed by a gala dinner, attended by Archbishop Demetrios, prominent people of the Arts and Greek Americans of Illinois, Sir Peter Westmacott, British ambassador to the United States, the President of the National Hellenic Museum, John P. Calamos etc.
In “Of Gods and Glamor,” the Jaharis Galleries’ first exhibition, approximately 400 objects from the museum’s permanent collection mingle with more than 150 examples of mosaics, sculpture, painting, glass, silver and jewelry on loan from institutions such as the Smart Museum and the Field Museum, as well as private collections. The display proceeds chronologically from Greece to Rome to Byzantium, emphasizing the gradual evolution of ancient art and the diverse influences of the Roman and Byzantine Empires’ multiethnic populations. One section of the galleries is devoted to “Late Roman and Early Byzantine Treasures from the British Museum,” on view through August 25; many of its 51 works have never before traveled to the U.S.
The artworks in the exhibition reflect the splendor of privileged households and important ecclesiastical sites between A.D. 350 and 650, and include opulent silver vessels, carved ivories, and gem-encrusted jewelry. Late Roman and Early Byzantine Treasures from the British Museum are on view in McKinlock Court through August 25, 2013.
Designed by the museum’s Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art and Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture, the new galleries, including state-of-the-art display cases built by Goppion Museum Workshop in Milan, Italy, were made possible by the generosity of the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc. Mary and Michael Jaharis’ gift of $10 million to the Art Institute in February 2011—the largest gift ever received by the museum in support of ancient Mediterranean and Byzantine art—is also being used to enhance the Art Institute’s acquisitions, exhibitions, and educational programs, and has even allowed for the creation of a new curatorial department at the museum.
“The generosity of Mary and Michael Jaharis has allowed us to reconceive our presentation of ancient and Byzantine art in a way never before possible in the museum’s history,” said Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute.
“And critically, these new galleries represent the last phase of the complete reinstallation of the museum, begun in 2008 and occasioned by the construction of the Modern Wing. Building a better relationship among the collections and the revitalization of McKinlock Court has now finally been realized.”
“It is a tremendous honor to work with such a rich collection of works,” said Karen Manchester, chair and curator of Ancient Art, Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art.
“The gift from the Jaharis Family Foundation has allowed the Art Institute to literally re-present our Greek, Roman, and Byzantine works of art—from how and where they are displayed to how they are interpreted. It is fitting, too, that these galleries have been constructed at the intersection of many of our outstanding collections, allowing us to show the lineage of art from the ancient Mediterranean world in the abstractions in the Modern Wing, the neoclassical sculpture in our American collection, and the sculptures from the kingdom of Gandhara in our Alsdorf Galleries of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art.”