Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas
October 26, 2015–September 18, 2016
From the first millennium B.C. until the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth 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, will shed light on the role of these objects in mediating relationships between the living, the dead, and the divine. It will also provide a rare look at ancient American architecture, much of which did not survive to the present day. Some thirty remarkable loans from museums in the United States and Peru will join works from the Metropolitan Museum's permanent collection, which is particularly rich in this material.