Ancient Treasures at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

Ancient Treasures

July 5, 2006–February 14, 2014 G.W.V. Smith Art Museum » First Floor

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, First Floor

The pyramids of Egypt, the scientific endeavors of the Ancient Greeks, the great accomplishments of the Roman generals, and the creativity of Ancient China have intrigued people for centuries. If not for the achievements of ancient peoples, such as the development of writing systems, the domestication of plants and animals, the invention of the wheel, and the development of human creativity, today's world would be a very different place. Ancient artifacts from around the globe offer valuable insight into the daily life and beliefs of the past and their connections to the present.

The Ancient Treasures Gallery displays objects from ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. Although they were geographically separated, these cultures shared similar beliefs that were often expressed in their art. One highlight of the gallery is an intricate Chinese burial suit made entirely of linked pieces of jade, which is on public view for the first time in 2,200 years.

The gallery also presents Greek and Roman sculpture from the recently-acquired Blake/Purnell Collection of antiquities, and ancient Chinese ceramics and bronzes from the Bidwell Collection. Greek pottery and glass from the George Walter Vincent Smith Collection complement the classical sculptures.

By exploring the purpose and cultural context of these and other objects of art, visitors
can discover more about the role of art and architecture in society, mythology and religious practices. The objects also provide information about the burial customs of these ancient civilizations.

The newest exhibit in this Victorian-era museum, the gallery will also address the Victorian enthusiasm for discovery that was fueled by exciting expeditions to Egypt, digs in Greece and Rome, and the new availability of exotic items from China and the Far East. The artifacts exemplify the evolution of archaeology from merely collecting exotic treasures to a science that provides insights about history and culture through the study of artistic and archaeological finds.

Video presentations in the Ancient Treasures Gallery discuss the development of world cultures and artistic expression. “KidQuest” labels invite children to search for treasure chests throughout the gallery to discover fascinating facts about ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome.