Exhibitions/ Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas

Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas

At The Met Fifth Avenue
October 26, 2015–September 18, 2016
Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

Exhibition Catalogue

This vividly illustrated publication is the first in English to explore the intriguing architectural effigies created by artists of the ancient Americas.

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Exhibition Overview

From the first millennium B.C. until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, artists from the ancient Americas created small-scale architectural models to be placed in the tombs of important individuals. These works in stone, ceramic, wood, and metal range from highly abstracted, minimalist representations of temples and houses to elaborate architectural complexes populated with figures. Such miniature structures were critical components in funerary practice and beliefs about an afterlife, and they convey a rich sense of ancient ritual as well as the daily lives of the Aztecs, the Incas, and their predecessors.

This exhibition, the first of its kind in the United States, sheds light on the role of these objects in mediating relationships between the living, the dead, and the divine. It also provides a rare look at ancient American architecture, much of which did not survive to the present day. Some 30 remarkable loans from museums in the United States and Peru join works from The Met's permanent collection, which is particularly rich in this material.

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"...a tantalizing exhibition..."Wall Street Journal


The exhibition is made possible by Jill and Alan Rappaport in honor of Joanne Pearson.

Additional support is provided by the Friends of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

The catalogue is made possible by the Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh Publications Fund and The MCS Endowment Fund.

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Exhibition Objects




House model, 100 B.C.–A.D. 200. Mexico. Nayarit. Ceramic; 12 x 10 1/4 x 6 3/4 in. (30.5 x 26 x 17.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Joanne P. Pearson, in memory of Andrall E. Pearson, 2015 (2015.306)