City Life Org – The Metropolitan Museum of Art to revamp its galleries of ancient Near Eastern and Cypriot art
Looking south through the galleries of ancient Near Eastern art. Rendered by NADAAA, with graphic design by Morcos Key
The Metropolitan Museum of Art today announced the complete renovation of its galleries of ancient Near Eastern and Cypriot art. The reimagined space will introduce an innovative, forward-thinking approach to showcasing art from Cyprus and ancient West Asia – a vast region that includes ancient Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, eastern Mediterranean coast, Yemen and Central Asia – creating a more deeply engaging experience and providing spaces for contemporary discourse and discussion. The renovation will also create a dialogue between these two large collection spaces, previously presented separately, reflecting the areas of interconnection between their cultures in Antiquity. The Museum selected Boston-based architectural firm NADAAA, led by lead designer Nader Tehrani, for the $40 million, 15,000 square foot project. The new galleries are expected to open in 2025.
Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, “The Met’s collections of art from ancient West Asia and Cyprus are among the most comprehensive of their kind in the United States, covering 10,000 years of art and history. With our stewardship of this heritage comes an institutional responsibility, which we welcome, to provide our wide audience with a means of enjoying material that is contemporary and accessible.
Currently, the museum’s ancient West Asian and Cypriot artworks reside in 11 galleries on the second floor of the museum, adjacent to the Asian and Islamic collections. Max Hollein, Marina Kellen, The Met’s French Director, said: “This bold renovation will showcase new insights and reflect diverse narratives, refocusing regional cultures and perspectives. By integrating these formerly separate areas of The Met collection, we can bring to light meaningful and informative links to our former West Asian and Cypriot collections and extend these links to neighboring galleries showcasing 19th century Asian, Islamic and European art. century, as well as galleries. through the Museum.
The renovation will introduce architectural and design elements that reflect both the materials and geographic origins of the artworks on display; it will also invite people to come together and engage with the collection from multiple angles.
Kim Benzel, Curator in charge of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, commented: “This project will introduce a carefully reconsidered presentation that celebrates the formative cultural, artistic and intellectual achievements of the vital and dynamic region of ancient Asia. West, and its central role. role in establishing cultural interconnections within the wider ancient world, from China to the Mediterranean. By expanding the canon and conversations to be more cross-cultural and multicentric, and by engaging with heritage communities and diaspora groups, we can highlight alternative narratives and contextualize ancient objects in contemporary discourse.
Seán Hemingway, John A. and Carole O. Moran, curator in charge of the Department of Greek and Roman Art, said: “This project is an opportunity to showcase the richness and breadth of the historic collection of Cypriot art of Cesnola from the museum dating back to prehistoric times. in Roman times. Like New York, the island of Cyprus has always attracted people from diverse cultures. The new exhibition will highlight the island’s role as an ancient crossroads and explore the dynamic visual and cultural intersections between Cyprus and ancient West Asia, Egypt, Greece and Rome.
About the design
The newly envisioned galleries will utilize an open floor plan that unites the galleries of ancient Near Eastern and Cypriot art while creating a sense of scale and grandeur befitting the collections. The new plan will create views that will open onto the Great Hall balcony and the Asian art exhibits to the north and the galleries of Islamic art and European paintings to the south. Galleries of ancient Near Eastern art will feature a series of architectural settings that reflect the materials used in the works on display, such as clay, copper, bronze, gold, silver and lapis. -lazuli. Cypriot galleries will highlight artefacts, in particular exceptional works of Cypriot limestone sculpture, to help frame the installations. A monumental ramp will link the collections of the Ancient Near East and Cyprus, deepening the relationship between the works of art on display and improving access for visitors to this space and for those passing through the second floor of the museum. Improving the galleries infrastructure is a key part of the Museum’s strategy to reduce its carbon footprint and energy consumption, and the scope of the project also includes critical repairs and replacements of a portion of the wells of light above the galleries. With the replacement of the skylights above the northern part of the project, the Museum expects to reduce energy consumption in this area by approximately 40%, in line with the city’s intermediate PlaNYC target.
“At the Met, the architecture serves as the cultural framework for the art exhibition,” commented Jhaelen Hernandez-Eli, the museum’s construction manager. “Nader Tehrani and NADAAA’s contemporary approach to materials such as clay and metal – which underlie the worldviews of ancient West Asia and Cyprus – and their partnership with renowned Moody Nolan for its work with peer institutions and marginalized communities, make this team a perfect fit for this complex project.
Nader Tehrani, Lead Designer of NADAAA, commented, “It is an honor to be selected for this project, which will address the need for more diverse narratives in exhibits of art from ancient West Asia and the Mediterranean regions. By bringing together disparate layers of the Museum’s architectural history, the proposed design hopes to align the formal, spatial and material properties of these galleries with the Museum’s mission. By working in collaboration with the Met’s conservation and construction teams, we will be able to recondition these spaces while facilitating the connection between cultures, civilizations and geographies to tell a whole new story.
As founding director of Office dA and later NADAAA, Nader Tehrani has led over 25 years of intensive design research that addresses issues of labor, materiality, and industry means and methods. construction. Tehrani and NADAAA’s work has been widely published and exhibited, receiving numerous accolades including induction into the Academy of Arts and Letters and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. The company’s work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and is part of permanent exhibitions at Nasher Sculpture Center and the Canadian Center for Architecture. Tehrani is a former chair of the architecture department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union in New York.
Moody Nolan is the largest African-American-owned and managed architecture firm in the United States, with many projects of cultural significance, including the International African American Museum, slated to open this year in Charleston , South Carolina.
The Met’s Kim Benzel, curator in charge of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, and Seán Hemingway, curator John A. and Carole O. Moran in charge of the Department of Greek and Roman Art, lead the curatorial teams that collaborate to the project. . The architectural design is led by NADAAA, with Moody Nolan as official architect. The Museum construction team is led by Jhaelen Hernandez-Eli, Construction Manager.
The Met’s Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art was formally established in 1956, although the museum began to acquire art from ancient West Asia in the first decades after its founding in 1870. The department s currently occupies about 7,000 works dating from the eighth millennium BC. through the centuries just after the emergence of Islam in the 7th century A.D. The objects in the collection were created by people from the region that today includes Iraq, Iran, the Turkey, Syria, the eastern Mediterranean coast, Yemen and Central Asia. From the art of some of the world’s first cities to that of great empires, the department’s collections illustrate the beauty and craftsmanship as well as the deep interconnections, cultural and religious diversity and enduring legacies that characterize the ancient art of this vast region. The best-known works in the collection include the Assyrian Court of Sculpture with its beloved winged lion and bull; important Hittite silver drinking vessels; Sumerian votive and dedicatory statues; extraordinary cast copper sculptures from Iran and Mesopotamia; colored glazed brick panels of the Processional Way of Babylon; outstanding examples of Sasanian metalwork; and some of the world’s earliest written records in the form of clay tablets. Today, the collection is widely recognized for its global significance for the study of the art and archeology of this region. The galleries were first opened in the early 1980s and were recently renovated in 1999.
The Cesnola Collection of Cypriot Art is part of the museum’s collections of Greek and Roman art, which includes more than 30,000 works dating from the Neolithic period (c. 4500 BC) up to the time of the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity in AD. 312. Acquired by General Luigi Palma di Cesnola while he was American consul in Cyprus between 1865 and 1876, these works were purchased by the then newly founded Metropolitan Museum between 1874 and 1876 and constituted its first major collection of archaeological material. In 1879 Cesnola was appointed the museum’s first director, a post he held until his death in 1904. Cesnola’s collection remains, by far, the largest and most comprehensive collection of ancient Cypriot material in the western hemisphere. The new Cypriot galleries will feature monumental stone sculptures; bronze weapons, tools and domestic utensils; terracotta and glass vases, lamps and ritual accessories; autograph figurines; and engraved sealstones and gold jewelry that testify to the distinctively Cypriot amalgamation of local traditions and elements adapted from the ancient Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans, who, one after another, controlled the island. The Cesnola Collection has been on display since 1880 in the Met’s first building in Central Park. The galleries were last renovated in 2000.
About the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met presents art from around the world and across time for everyone to experience and enjoy. The museum lives in two iconic New York locations: The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people are also taking part in The Met experience online. Since its founding in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasure trove of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes to life in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and cultures.