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.
Explore the Sphinx in augmented reality with the Chroma AR web app.
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.
Exhibition ObjectsView All
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The “Treu Head”: A Virtual Color Reconstruction
Using a combination of analytical techniques, conservation scientists studied the preserved color on an ancient Roman head at the British Museum. See what they discovered.
See how Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann study ancient sculptural polychromy and create full-size reconstructions of original Greek and Roman artworks.
Chroma AR Experience
Virtually recreate an ancient Greek sculpture of a sphinx in full color, in your own space, and compare the vivid reconstruction with how it looks today.
Sight and Sound: Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now
On Sunday, February 19, experience the music of Franz Josef Haydn and Johannes Brahms alongside art from Chroma: Polychromy of Ancient Greek and Roman Sculpture.
Reconstructing the Archaic Greek Sphinx
See how the sphinx of a Greek funerary monument was reconstructed in its original form and color.