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Press release

The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Display Special Loan of Colossal Limestone “Giant” from the Mont’e Prama Foundation, Sardinia, Italy

A group photo with four men in suits and a woman in a long dress in front of a large stone sculpture of a man in a long light-filled gallery

(May 12, 2023)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the significant loan from the Mont’e Prama Foundation, Sardinia, Italy, of a colossal limestone statue of a boxer known as Manneddu (mannu in Sardinian means “large”). The nearly seven-foot-tall figure, dating from about 900–750 BCE, will be on view for six months—from May 25 through December 6, 2023—in Gallery 150 of The Met’s Greek and Roman Art galleries. This important loan is the first agreement between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Mont’e Prama Foundation; it was organized with the support of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia and in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture and the President of the Sardinia Region.

Max Hollein, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Marina Kellen French Director, stated, “The Giants of Mont’e Prama have become global ambassadors of this ancient Sardinian civilization, and we are thrilled to have one on loan to welcome visitors to our Greek and Roman Galleries. Presented in context with works from our collection, the display will further enrich our knowledge of Sardinian and related Italic cultures. The Metropolitan Museum is grateful to the Mont’e Prama Foundation, the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, the Italian Ministry of Culture, and the President of the Sardinia Region for making this extraordinary loan possible.”

“Although it is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, the rich cultural heritage of Sardinia is relatively unknown to many people.  We are thrilled to be able to present one of the spectacular Giants from Mont’e Prama at the entrance to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Greek and Roman Galleries,” said Seán Hemingway, John A. and Carole O. Moran Curator in Charge of the Department of Greek and Roman Art at The Met. “Visitors will see this towering figure in relation to works of early Greek and Italic art from The Met collection, reminding us of the diverse cultures that populated the Mediterranean region in the early first millennium B.C. and their distinctive artistic traditions.”

"We are deeply honored to partner with such a prestigious institution as The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” added Dr. Anthony Muroni, President of the Mont’e Prama Foundation. “Thanks to the initial project proposal and then the introduction made by Barbara Faedda, Executive Director of Columbia's Italian Academy, and the contributions of the Italian Ministry of Culture and the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, we now have the opportunity to showcase the statues of the Stone Giants of Mont'e Prama and Sardinia's multi-millennial history in the United States of America, thus coming full circle after the European tour that brought the exhibition to Berlin, Saint Petersburg, Thessaloniki, and Naples.”

“Our wish is for all visitors to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to be captivated by the history of Sardinia, and perhaps someday become guests on our beautiful island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. We want to tell the story of the island, which is already renowned for its unspoiled beaches and crystal-clear sea, by exploring the millennia-old heritage that has turned it into an open-air archaeological museum. The island's landscape is dotted with over 10,000 megalithic towers built in the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization, whose heroic descendants can be recognized in the statues of the Stone Warriors of Mont'e Prama,” stated Dr. Nadia Canu, Director of the Mont’e Prama Foundation. 

Dr. Mariangela Zappia, Ambassador of Italy to the United States, commented, “I am delighted that The Metropolitan Museum of Art will host one of 33 historic Sardinian Giants. The so called Manneddu is coming on display to the United States for the first time in its history, and for the second time ever abroad. This incredible loan was made possible by the collaboration of The Metropolitan Museum with the Mont’e Prama Foundation, with the Italian Ministry of Culture and the Sardinia Region. I am certain that the Manneddu will help the public to discover the mysterious Nuragic civilization, whose main site is among the unmatched number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy.”

Over the past several decades, thousands of shattered limestone sculptural fragments dating to about 900–750 BCE have been discovered in a necropolis, or cemetery, at the foot of the low hill of Mont’e Prama on the western side of Sardinia. So far, the pieces have been reassembled into 28 statues depicting archers, warriors, and boxers known as the Giants of Mont’e Prama. The example that will be on loan to The Metropolitan Museum of Art—one of the boxers—is the largest of the group. His raised left arm originally held a shield, and his missing right arm would have been sheathed in a spiked glove that could be used as a weapon. These figures may represent warriors armed for close combat or athletes engaged in games in honor of a deity or the deceased.

The extraordinary history of the rediscovery of the Giants of Mont’e Prama began on March 28, 1974, when two farmers plowing their field in Cabras found a large head, the first of thousands of fragments collected by archaeologists in the following decades. In 2007, more than 5,000 sculptural fragments found at Mont’e Prama were transferred to the Conservation and Restoration Center of Li Punti in the city of Sassari. Over the next four years, 28 statues and 16 sculptures representing models of nuraghi (the prehistoric stone towers of Sardinia) were reconstructed. They were then exhibited in Sardinia at the museums in Cagliari and Cabras. New excavations after 2014 have recovered thousands of additional fragments. In 2021, the Ministry of Culture of the Italian Republic, the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, and the Municipality of Cabras created the Mont'e Prama Foundation, which is entrusted with the care and display of the Giants.

The Giant on loan to The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be displayed in the center of Gallery 150, a key location in the Greek and Roman Art galleries where single-object loans of major significance are highlighted. Additionally, on the occasion of the display of the loan, a nearby case will feature a selection of the Museum’s Greek and Italic bronze objects reflecting the warrior ideology and imagery found in many different cultures throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. These objects include a ninth-century BCE Villanovan bronze helmet, two late seventh-century BCE Cretan helmets, Etruscan and Umbrian bronze warrior statuettes of the late sixth to fourth centuries BCE, and a fifth-century BCE Etruscan miniature bronze armor.  

The installation is organized by Seán Hemingway, John A. and Carole O. Moran Curator in Charge, and Alexis Belis, Assistant Curator, in The Met’s Department of Greek and Roman Art.

On September 22, The Met will host a lecture titled “Between Giant Statues and Indigenous Landscapes: Mont’e Prama and Iron Age Sardinia within the Wider Mediterranean" in collaboration with AIA New York Society. The speaker will be Peter van Dommelen, the Joukowsky Family Professor of Archaeology and Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University.

The installation will be featured on The Met’s website as well as on its social media channels.


May 12, 2023

Contact: Alexandra Kozlakowski

(From L-R) Consul General of Italy in New York, Fabrizio Di Michele; Secretary General of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Riccardo Guariglia; Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met; Seán Hemingway, John A. and Carole O. Moran Curator in Charge of the Department of Greek and Roman Art at The Met; and Alexis Belis, Assistant Curator, in The Met’s Department of Greek and Roman Art. Photo credit: Filip Wolak

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