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Now at the Met

Uncovering Middle Kingdom Egypt with Adela Oppenheim

Rachel High, Publishing and Marketing Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

During Egypt's transformational Middle Kingdom period (ca. 2030–1650 B.C.), earlier artistic conventions, cultural principles, religious beliefs, and political systems were revived and reimagined. Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, on view through January 24, presents a comprehensive picture of the art and culture of the Middle Kingdom—arguably the least known of Egypt's three kingdoms, and yet one that saw the creation of powerful, compelling works rendered with great subtlety and sensitivity. I recently spoke with Adela Oppenheim, co-author of the catalogue and curator of the exhibition, about this pivotal period and how this publication illustrates the profound changes in ancient Egyptian culture.

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Prayer, Placement, and Absolution: Peter Hristoff on Islamic Prayer Rugs

Peter Hristoff, Artist in Residence, Education Department and Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

At a recent MetFridays event in the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, I spoke about prayer rugs (seccades)—not as a scholar of the Islamic arts, but as an artist. In 1997 I started a series of drawings based on my assumptions of what people pray for and why they pray. I eventually turned these drawings into a suite of serigraph prints entitled Ten Prayers that I exhibited, in September 1998, at my first one-man show at the Yapi Kredi Cultural Center's Kazim Taskent Gallery in Istanbul. These works then led to a series of larger "rug" pieces done on rice paper, which combined the motifs I was using in my paintings (masks, birds, skulls, stylized flowers, cosmological symbols, and figures) with the formal structure of Anatolian carpets.

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Returning Clarity and Renewing Vibrancy: Treating Valentin Bousch's The Deluge

Drew Anderson, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Janis Mandrus, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Monday, November 30, 2015

We recently completed the conservation of a stained-glass window by French artist Valentin Bousch (1514–1541), who is considered to be one of the most important and innovative artists working in stained glass in the early sixteenth century. Bousch is widely known for his painterly style and virtuoso skill as a glass cutter. The goal of our treatment was to remove the numerous disfiguring lead repairs that detracted from the artist's original aesthetic.

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Giving Thanks before the Pilgrims: The Art of Feasting in the Ancient Americas

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It is unsurprising that Europeans arriving in the New World, including the first English pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, quickly adopted corn as a staple grain. What remains a mystery, however, is how the early arrivals to the Western Hemisphere thousands of years ago first began creating corn, or maize. Unlike Old World grains, corn (Zea mays) was not technically "domesticated," because there is no wild form of the plant. Rather, it was entirely created from ancestral wild grasses by human populations in the fertile highlands and valleys of modern-day Mexico.

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Unfolding the Narrative: Depictions of the Royal Hunt

Kalyani Madhura Ramachandran, Former Solow Graduate Intern in South and Southeast Asian Art, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2015

As a recent graduate intern in the Department of Asian Art, I had the chance to observe the installation of the exhibition The Royal Hunt: Courtly Pursuits in Indian Art, on view through December 8, 2015. This was a rare opportunity for me to not only interact with a diverse set of experts across the Museum, all of whom worked collaboratively towards putting the exhibition together, but especially to examine up-close the objects on display.

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Food and Feasts in Middle Kingdom Egypt

Adela Oppenheim, Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Central to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is an elaborate, festive meal, which makes this week a perfect time to look at how ancient Egyptians feasted during the Middle Kingdom and how food is depicted in the exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom.

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Now on View: Lithographs by John Singer Sargent

Constance C. McPhee, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Metropolitan Museum's recent exhibition Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends featured paintings and watercolors by the celebrated American artist John Singer Sargent. Less well-known is the fact that the artist was also active as a printmaker. In 1895, he made a fascinating group of lithographs as he prepared to send one work to a large overview exhibition, held at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Paris, which celebrated the hundredth anniversary of this particular print medium. Examples of Sargent's experimental lithographs were later donated to the Met, in 1950, by the artist's sister Violet Ormond, and are currently on view in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery.

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In Honor of Pharaoh's Fighters

Kei Yamamoto, Lila Acheson Wallace Research Associate, Department of Egyptian Art

Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015

Strength, bravery, and tenacity were among the qualities that ancient Egyptians valued in their soldiers, and the exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom features many intriguing artifacts that these warriors probably used as well as some magnificent artworks depicting the pharaoh's fighters. When looking at the action-packed battle scene in this painted relief (fig. 1), for example, I can almost hear the metallic noise of crashing weapons and the shrieks of the falling enemies shot by the Egyptian archers' arrows. The relief once decorated the mortuary temple of King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II (ca. 2051–2000), the founder of the Middle Kingdom period (ca. 2030–1650 B.C.).

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Modeling the World: Ancient Architectural Models Now on View

Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Friday, November 6, 2015

The Metropolitan Museum's permanent collection is unusually rich in archaeological architectural effigies—often called models—from around the globe, including works from Middle Bronze Age Syria, Ancient Egypt, and Han Dynasty China. Now, joining these remarkable works under the Met's roof are the fifty Precolumbian models featured in the exhibition Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas, on view through September 18, 2016.

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Showing Signs: Hieroglyphs and Palettes in the Stela of Irtisen

Niv Allon, Assistant Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015

There is something truly exciting about deciphering an ancient handwriting. Recognizing repeating patterns, erasures, and corrections are often as close as modern scholars can get to a sense of the person who once picked up a pen and wrote the text. The quest to uncover such mysteries by looking at hieratic—the cursive script of ancient Egypt, written with pen and ink—often brings up the question of whether a text was penned by one or more people.

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From Archimedes to Zansz: Inventor Souvenir Cards from the Burdick Collection

Allison Rudnick, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015

The 1880s witnessed an explosion in the production of souvenir cards in the United States. Among the first companies to take advantage of the marketing potential of these collectible cards were tobacco companies such as Allen & Ginter, Duke, and Goodwin, though producers of coffee, chewing gum, and other products also inserted souvenir cards into the packaging of their output.

As printed-ephemera collector Jefferson R. Burdick explained in The American Card Catalogue, published in 1960, collecting souvenir cards became so popular in this decade that tobacco companies issued albums of souvenir cards "intended to replace the individual cards if the smoker so desired, or at least enable him to own the entire collection of designs without the difficulty attendant to obtaining all the individual cards in a set."

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Harley Quinn: A Modern Harlequina

Jane A. Dini, Associate Curator of Paintings and Sculpture, The American Wing

Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015

If you stop by the Met this Halloween, you might happen to see one of our many representations of the character Harlequin (or the female version, Harlequina), a comedic actor in a diamond-patterned costume who derives from the sixteenth-century Italian commedia dell'arte. But if your Halloween plans involve welcoming trick-or-treaters, you're more likely to see Harley Quinn, a modern version of the classic character and a Batman villain in the DC Comics universe—who also happens to be this year's most popular Halloween costume.

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When Mummies Were the Life of the Party

Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2015

In the twenty-first century, there is usually a sharp distinction made between the worlds of the dead and the living, with cemeteries now located in park-like settings that are removed from city centers and the daily lives of most. Yet if one reaches further back in time, there is a less pronounced division between the living and the dead, especially in the ancient Americas. The recently opened exhibition Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas, on view through September 18, 2016, provides a rare glimpse into relations between the living and the dead, particularly in one remarkable model on loan to the Met from the Museo Huacas de Moche (above).

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The Evolution of Peter Hristoff's My Metropolitan

Peter Hristoff, Artist in Residence, Education Department and Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Monday, October 26, 2015

The planning phase of my residency at the Met has given me the opportunity to explore the works on view in greater depth, with a focus on both study and documentation. Since January, I have selected one gallery, curatorial department, or exhibition per visit, with the goal of completing drawings of the objects that interest me. Later, while at work in my studio, I then choose the drawings that I would like to paint. I paint each object on an individual panel, which I then hang, salon-style, on the wall. I am attempting to create My Metropolitan—a monumental work that will be determined ultimately by the length of this residency, to be completed by the end of my tenure here at the Museum.

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Welcome to Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom

Adela Oppenheim, Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

Posted: Monday, October 26, 2015

October 12 marked the opening of Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom—a major exhibition that highlights the art, culture, literature, and religious beliefs of the Middle Kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11–Dynasty 13, around 2030–1650 B.C.). The Middle Kingdom was an era during which the ideas and concepts that formed the basis of ancient Egyptian civilization were dramatically transformed, sparking the creation of amazing works of art that remain compelling, immediate, and often poignant, thousands of years after their creation.

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Baseball Team Cards from the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection

Erin Florence, Collections Management Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A pivotal scene in the 2014 film Million Dollar Arm shows John Hamm's character, sports agent J.B. Bernstein, standing in an office directly in front of a pair of poster-sized photographs of old baseball teams. While the movie follows the factual story of Bernstein and his discovery of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel—young amateur baseball players from India—the photographs suggest another story steeped in the history of the sport, one that channels the careers of equally ambitious men dedicated to the game.

To some viewers these images would have escaped unnoticed, but their familiarity caught my eye as they are part of the Met's Jefferson R. Burdick Collection of Printed Ephemera—specifically series T200, Baseball Teams, published in 1913 by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company to promote their Fatima "Turkish blend" cigarettes. Significant in subject matter, history, and medium, these large black-and-white prints shown in the film display the team roster for the Chicago Cubs (above) and the Boston Red Sox (below).

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Poetry in Action at Teens Take the Met

Maya Valladares, Education Assistant, Education Department

Posted: Friday, October 9, 2015

Next Friday, October 16, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., dozens of cultural and community organizations and over two thousand teens will gather at the Met for our third Teens Take the Met event. This teen night, open to any teen ages 13 and up, is an explosion of creativity and fun.

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Playoff Season Is Here! Highlights from the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection

Christopher Gorman, Assistant Administrator, Marketing and External Relations; Chair, Spectrum

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015

The Major League Baseball playoffs begin tomorrow, and for fans everywhere, there is a lot to be excited about. It's the second season, in a manner of speaking, and the ten teams who made the cut now have their eyes set on championship glory. In just a few weeks the World Series will begin, about the same time as the next exhibition of the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection will go on view here at the Met.

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My Met: Peter Hristoff's Connections with the Museum

Peter Hristoff, Artist in Residence, Education Department and Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015

As an artist in residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was recently asked what the Met means to me and about my relationship to the Museum. My professional relationship with the Met began in 1978, during my junior year at the School of Visual Arts. I say "professional" because that was when I, a young art student, first used the Museum as a resource for images to create new work.

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Following the Historical Thread

Warren T. Woodfin, Kallinikeion Assistant Professor of Art History, Queens College, City University of New York

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One of the most striking aspects of the silk and metal-thread embroideries on view through November 1, 2015, in Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World is how labor-intensive they are. One might wonder who devoted so much time and eyestrain to creating these pieces, and at whose behest? Although they form a minority within the body of surviving liturgical embroideries, pieces inscribed with the names of the donor or the embroiderer help scholars to answer these questions.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.