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Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color

July 5, 2022–March 26, 2023
Free with Museum admission

Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was once colorful, vibrantly painted and richly adorned with detailed ornamentation. Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color reveals the colorful backstory of polychromy—meaning “many colors,” in Greek—and presents new discoveries of surviving ancient color on artworks in The Met’s world-class collection. Exploring the practices and materials used in ancient polychromy, the exhibition highlights cutting-edge scientific methods used to identify ancient color and examines how color helped convey meaning in antiquity, and how ancient polychromy has been viewed and understood in later periods.

The exhibition features a series of reconstructions of ancient sculptures in color by Prof. Dr. V. Brinkmann, Head of the Department of Antiquity at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, and Dr. U. Koch-Brinkmann, and introduces a new reconstruction of The Met’s Archaic-period Sphinx finial, completed by The Liebieghaus team in collaboration with The Met.Presented alongside original Greek and Roman works representing similar subjects, the reconstructions are the result of a wide array of analytical techniques, including 3D imaging and rigorous art historical research. Polychromy is a significant area of study for The Met, and the Museum has a long history of investigating, preserving, and presenting manifestations of original color on ancient statuary.

The exhibition is made possible by the Aretê Foundation/Betsy and Ed Cohen.

Additional support is provided by Mary Jaharis and Cathrin M. Stickney and Mark P. Gorenberg.

This exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, in collaboration with the Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection, Frankfurt am Main.

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Reconstruction of the marble funerary stele of Phrasikleia, Vinzenz Brinkmann  German, Polymethyl metacrylate
Vinzenz Brinkmann
Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann
Marble palette, Marble, Cycladic
ca. 3000–2800 BCE
Head and neck from a marble figure, Marble, Cycladic
2700–2500 BCE
Reconstruction of a marble Cycladic Figure of the Spedos group, Vinzenz Brinkmann  German, Synthetic marble, natural pigments in egg tempera
Vinzenz Brinkmann
Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

Latest reviews

Chroma' asks us to fundamentally reimagine our sense of the ancient world.

The Washington Post


Marquee: Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, Reconstruction of marble finial in the form of a sphinx (detail), 2022. 3D print in polymethyl metacrylate, natural pigments in egg tempera, gilded copper, gilded tin. Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung (Liebieghaus Polychromy Research Project), Frankfurt am Main; original: Greece, ca. 530 B.C. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (11.185d, x)