I’m not into ancient art, but I’m glad I caught the new Ancient Egypt exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum this past weekend. The NY Times gave it a fabulous review, and rightly so! Focusing on the Middle Kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11–Dynasty 13, around 2030–1650 B.C.), when Egypt was re-united, this exhibit has wonderful statuary and stelae – some monumental, some miniature – as well as exquisite jewelry and ritual objects. There are over 200 objects in this show, many from the Met’s holdings. The Met has sponsored excavations related to this period of Egyptian history since the early 1900’s.
While you will find many heads of pharaohs, princess and princesses, there are also block sculptures commissioned by more ordinary people with money, who were now imitating royalty in their quest for immortality. From Thebes there are some especially lovely painted limestone reliefs from royal temples and tombs, as well as others with depictions of high officials, and even some everyday workers. As you wander through the gallery where there are many Pharoah heads, notice how over time, the style changes – from smiling and youthful to careworn and more realistic.
Though there is not a lot of jewelry on display, what is shown is magnificent (check out the ankle bracelets) I’ve put some on my Instagram feed.
Early in the exhibit you’ll find a scale model of the pyramid complex of Senwosret III (around 1878-1840 B.C.) at Dahshur that you might want to spend some time with.
If you have time (or the suds) wander over to the Temple of Dendur, which was built between 22–10 b.c., during the reign of Cesar Augustus, in Nubia, on the west bank of the Nile River, fifty miles South of Aswan. This magnificent structure was was given to the United States by Egypt in 1965 and installed in the Museum in1978.
I had visited it earlier this year, and I really like the wing the Met built to house the temple, and other objects from Egypt: it’s full of light, and the water adds a peaceful element.
Do try to get up to see these wonderful collections!