On Show - the best exhibitions from around the world

King Taharqa and the Falcon Hemen © Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN Grand Palais/Christian Decamps

Exhibitions from around the world

The dates listed below may have changed since we went to print. Check the websites of the museums for the most up-to-date information and bookings.


Troy: Beauty and Heroism

A select few objects from the British Museum’s 2019 exhibition on Troy have gone on a tour of the UK. This British Museum Spotlight Loan explores two of the most prominent figures in the story of the Trojan War: Helen, the Greek wife of King Menelaus who was taken to Troy by Paris, leading to the outbreak of the war, and Achilles, the famed warrior who died on the battlefield. The tour includes an Etruscan urn depicting Helen’s abduction (below), an Athenian amphora illustrating the vengeful side of Achilles, who drags the body of the Trojan prince Hector, as well as somewhat more recent depictions of these characters by Pietro Testa and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and specially created 3D scans of the objects accessible through QR codes in a collaboration with Sketchfab. The exhibition is currently on view at the Haslemere Educational Museum, Surrey (until 8 May), and will travel to The McManus in Dundee shortly afterwards (19 May-14 August 2022).

Relief from a tufa limestone funerary urn, showing Helen being boarding the ship to Troy, while Paris sits on a stool. Made in Italy, about 125BC–100BC. (Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum)

Haslemere Educational Museum, Haslemere, Surrey
Until 8 May 2022

Freud and China

Jade and gold brooch given by Sigmund Freud to his daughter Anna. (Image: © Freud Museum London)

The office in the north London home of famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is crammed with ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artefacts. Figurines crowd the desk at which he once worked. While Freud’s engagement with the Graeco-Roman world – the myths of Oedipus and Electra, for example – is well known, less familiar are his connections to China, including later on in life his collecting of Chinese art, some of which stood at the very centre of his desk. This exhibition explores the Chinese objects in Freud’s collection, as well as his ideas about the Chinese language and the impact of his work in China. A highlight is the jade and gold brooch he gave to his daughter Anna (a detail is shown above).

Freud Museum, London
Until 26 June 2022


Raphael, The Madonna of the Pinks (‘La Madonna dei Garofani’). Oil on yew, c.1506-1507. (Image: © National Gallery, London)

COVID-19 restrictions and closures derailed the National Gallery’s plans to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of the Italian Renaissance master Raphael (1483-1520) in 2020. This delayed exhibition charts the relatively short but varied career of the painter and draughtsman – a ‘universal’ man, in the words of artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari. It does not just feature his famous paintings, but also sheds light on his work in designing sculpture and tapestry, in architecture, archaeology, and even poetry. Works created early in his career in Urbino and elsewhere in Le Marche are featured, as are his Florentine paintings, including various versions of the Virgin and Child (some also produced in his early years in Rome) that have been brought together to illustrate how he made this subject his own.

Raphael, Study for an Angel. Red chalk over some stylus indentation, c.1515-1516. (Image: © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford)

In 1508, Raphael moved to Rome to work for the illustrious patron Pope Julius II. While there, he created some of his most monumental paintings, a series of frescoes for four rooms in the Pope’s private apartments, including scenes from the history of the Church and a gathering of philosophers of ancient Greece, the School of Athens. While in the city, Raphael also served as surveyor of ancient Rome to Leo X, Julius’ successor as pope. During his survey of the ancient remains, he completed drawings of the major buildings, like the Pantheon, and in 1519, in a letter to Leo on display in the exhibition, described the destruction of ruins as ‘the shame of our age’. He was appointed architect of the new St Peter’s Basilica and designed private townhouses in the city, as well as the Villa Madama for the Medici; this ambitious villa outside Rome was only partially completed.

National Gallery, London
Until 31 July 2022

Arabian Light

Artist David Bellamy (born 1943) has created atmospheric watercolours of scenic surroundings he has journeyed through, such as the changing light of the Arctic. Bellamy first travelled to the Middle East in 1963, and this exhibition showcases about 50 paintings from the region, capturing archaeological sites, deserts, mountains, and scenes of city life in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and South Arabia. Among the scenes on view are the ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon, the Egyptian temple on the island of Philae, and the spectacular rock-carved buildings of Petra, like Urn Tomb (below).

David Bellamy, Urn Tomb. (Image: David Bellamy)

Osborne Studio Gallery, London
17-28 May 2022

Japan: Courts and Culture

Iwai Yozaemon, Armour, c.1610. Sent to James I by Shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada in 1613. (Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022)

Lacquer, porcelain, fans, embroidered screens, and armour are among the wide array of Japanese works from the UK’s Royal Collection going on display in this exhibition. Some of the pieces featured are diplomatic gifts and so tell the story of relations between the royal families of both countries. It was under James I in 1613 that this relationship and English trade in Japan began. Shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada presented the king with a stunning suit of samurai armour (below) in exchange for the letters and gifts James had sent with the first English ship to reach Japanese shores. Another highlight is a pair of folding-screen paintings depicting the changing seasons sent to Queen Victoria by Shōgun Tokugawa Iemochi in 1860, recently rediscovered in the Royal Collection. Conservation work has revealed details such as the use of Victorian railway timetables to patch up wear and tear.

The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
Until 26 February 2023

Hidden Masterpieces

As an architect and a teacher, Sir John Soane assembled an extensive collection of models of buildings, casts of decorations, and drawings (amounting to an impressive 30,000 sheets) to serve as reference material and inspiration for his office and students. A selection of these fragile and rarely displayed works are now going on view at his former home. As well as drawings from the offices of Georgian architects including Soane himself, Robert Adam, and George Dance the Younger, the exhibition features beautiful Indian and Persian miniatures, a 1512 illuminated Book of Hours, and a view of the Colosseum by Hieronymus Cock (c.1550).

Running alongside the exhibition of drawings is Dear Friend, I Can No Longer Hear Your Voice, a short film by artist Anne-Marie Creamer that recreates the bedchamber of Eliza, the wife of Soane, which he preserved for 19 years after her death.

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London
Until 5 June 2022

David R Abram: Ancient Sites from the Air

A bird’s-eye view can offer the chance to see new details of ancient monuments and understand the structure of their earthworks and their place in the landscape. This exhibition features photographs that were taken using flying cameras and telescopic poles, then stitched together to form large-format composites. It offers a breathtaking tour of prehistoric sites around Britain, particularly those of the Salisbury area, but also encompassing, for example, an Iron Age crannog in a Scottish lake. David R Abram’s images – which will appear in a book due to be published in autumn 2022 – conjure up the majesty of these monuments and their surroundings. The rather celestial Normanton Gold (Stonehenge, 2019) is shown below.

David R Abram, Normanton Gold (Stonehenge, 2019). (Image: © David R Abram)

Salisbury Museum, Salisbury
Until 15 May 2022

In Focus: The Grand Tour – the two Horaces and the Court of Florence (1740-1786)

Horace Walpole (1717-1797), the author of Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, once had in the library at his equally Gothic Strawberry Hill House three volumes of Studio d’architettura civile sopra gli ornamenti di porte, e finestre… tratte da alcune fabbriche insigni di Firenze, a survey of Florentine architecture illustrated by Ferdinando Ruggieri. The work was produced 300 years ago in 1722. The three volumes were dispersed in 1842, when they were sold, but they have now returned to Strawberry Hill. Putting these volumes in the spotlight, this display looks at the friendship between Walpole and Horace Mann, the British envoy to Florence; Walpole’s Grand Tour to Italy; both men’s interest in all things Florentine and the Medici family; and their various antiquarian pursuits.

Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham
Until 24 July 2022



Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche

When the Aztec Empire fell to the conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1521, a young enslaved Indigenous woman became indelibly implicated in the action. La Malinche served as Cortés’ interpreter and intermediary, and was also the mother of his first-born son. She has been viewed variously as a traitor, a survivor, and the symbolic mother of modern Mexico. This exhibition uses art from the 16th century onwards to explore her complex legacy and her role in conversations about women’s relationships to power structures, Indigeneity, and national identity. After its run in Denver, the exhibition will travel to the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico (11 June to 4 September 2022) and the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas (14 October 2022 to 8 January 2023).

Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
Until 8 May 2022

Gold in America: Artistry, Memory, Power

Resplendent and never tarnished, gold has often been used for objects of symbolic and emotional value – for example, betrothal and mourning rings. These pieces of jewellery, other goldwork, paintings, and photographs have been brought together to examine the role of the precious metal in America over the past 400 years. Among the highlights are a ‘Freedom Box’ given to Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben when, in 1784, he was granted the freedom of the City of New York in recognition of his leadership in the Revolutionary War, and a 1735 thimble made for Elizabeth Good Hubbart (below). Though ornate, the thimble reflects Hubbart’s profession: she opened a haberdasher’s in Boston after the death of her husband.

Jacob Hurd, Thimble Owned by Elizabeth Gooch Hubbart Franklin, Boston. Gold, 1730–40. (Image: Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection)

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Until 10 July 2022

By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800

The accomplished work of 17 women artists is celebrated in this exhibition, co-organised by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, where it was previously on view. With self-portraits, still lifes, religious compositions, and scenes from ancient history featuring female protagonists, these exceptional pieces – including paintings and prints – showcase their skills, creativity, and business acumen, and also offer a chance to consider the role of women in the male-dominated Italian art world of the 16th-18th centuries.

Elisabetta Sirani, Portia Wounding Her Thigh. Oil on canvas, 1664. (Image: Collezioni d’Arte e di Storia della Fondazione della Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna)

As well as Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c.1654), the exhibition features court artist Sofonisba Anguissola (c.1532-1625) and the Bolognese painter and printmaker Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665), whose 1664 oil-on-canvas Portia Wounding Her Thigh is shown above.

Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Until 29 May 2022

Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World

All three of ancient Persia’s great empires – the Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sasanians – confronted and interacted with Greece and Rome. Spanning more than 1,000 years, this exhibition explores the cultural and political connections, and artistic and religious exchanges between Persia and the classical world.

Plaque with a winged lion-griffin. Gold, 500-330 BC. (Image: The Oriental Institute of the University of

In the mid-6th century BC, Cyrus the Great – founder of the vast Achaemenid Empire – conquered Greek settlements in western Asia. Decades later, the Graeco-Persian Wars (490-479 BC) resulted in a Greek victory. These historic events feature on Greek works in the exhibition, while Achaemenid sculpture and jewellery showcase the spectacular skills of Persian makers. And in Lydia, Caria, and Lycia in Asia Minor, works created in Greek and Persian styles bear witness to the cultural influences at play.

Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire, leading to a period of Greek Seleucid rule towards the end of the 4th century BC. The Parthians arose in the 3rd century, overthrowing the Seleucids in Iran and ruling for nearly 500 years between 247 BC and AD 224, with the Romans as their great rivals. Their artworks show signs of Greek, Mesopotamian, Achaemenid, and nomadic Iranian influences. The Sasanians took over in AD 224 until the Arab conquest in AD 651, and were also rivals of the Romans. Spectacular silver plates depicting kings on the hunt and other royal courtly subjects are a distinctive feature of Sasanian art. They are paired in the exhibition with Late Roman and Byzantine examples of silver.

Plaque with Bahram Gur and Azadeh. Stucco, AD 600-800. (Image: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. University Museum—M.F.A. Persian Expedition)

The exhibition is the second in the Getty’s The Classical World in Context programme, which will continue in 2024 with Thrace and the Classical World. It features an immersive on-site film and an online digital experience (available at https://persepolis.getty.edu) that gives visitors a chance to walk through a digital reconstruction of the Achaemenid palaces and chambers of Persepolis.

Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles, California
Until 8 August 2022

Mixpantli: Space, Time, and the Indigenous Origins of Mexico

Mexica statue of Xiuhtecuhtli. Basalt stone, 1250–1521. (Image: Archivo Digital de las Colecciones del Museo Nacional de Antropologia. INAH-CANON)

Challenging narratives of conquest, this exhibition draws together pre-Columbian and early colonial works from Mexico to set them in conversation and explore the creative resilience of Indigenous artists. Mixpantli, meaning ‘banner of clouds’, was the name given by Nahua scribes and painters to the first omen of the conquest. Their worldview was central in shaping modern Mexico, as the exhibition sets out to show. More than 30 pieces – encompassing works on paper, Olmec jade, and sculpture, such as the Mexica basalt representation of the god Xiuhtecuhtli (1250-1521) shown on the right – help put the Aztec Empire and its 1521 conquest into context. Artefacts illustrate aspects of the cyclical creation, destruction, and re-creation of the cosmos in the Mesoamerican world view, and explore the role of emperor Moctezuma, betrayed and assassinated by the Spanish and depicted as Christ-like, in merging Mesoamerican and Euro-Christian cosmologies.

A companion show, Mixpantli: Contemporary Echoes, is also on view at LACMA until 12 June, featuring seven works by contemporary artists and mapmakers who have drawn on Indigenous cartographic and artistic histories.

LACMA, Los Angeles, California
Until 1 May 2022

Pompeii in Color: The Life of Roman Wall Painting

Still-life fragments representing vase, scrolls, landscape, and fruits. Herculaneum, 1st century AD. Image: © Photographic Archive, National Archaeological Museum of Naples

When Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 destroying Pompeii, Herculaneum, and nearby towns, it preserved a wealth of delicate Roman frescoes under its ashes. Organised by the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, and MondoMostre, this exhibition showcases 35 wall-paintings from Roman homes taken from the Neapolitan museum’s collection, as well as some painters’ tools used to create these marvellous frescoes. Mythological scenes, landscapes, architectural structures, still-lifes – as seen in the 1st-century AD fragments from Herculaneum shown above – portraits, and more adorned the walls of well-appointed houses.

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York
Until 29 May 2022

In America: An Anthology of Fashion

The Costume Institute’s exhibition of American fashion continues with its second part, An Anthology of Fashion, which will see men’s and women’s clothing from the 18th century to the present day installed in the period rooms of the Met’s American Wing to consider the histories of the rooms and the place of dress in shaping American identity over time. In the 1830s Shaker Retiring Room, displays examine American sportswear, while John Vanderlyn’s extraordinary panoramic 1819 mural of Versailles provides a backdrop for the recreation of the 1973 fashion event the ‘Battle of Versailles’, a showdown between American and French designers. The smaller first part of the exhibition (A Lexicon of Fashion) is already open and will also run until 5 September.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
5 May to 5 September 2022

Shell and Resin: Korean Mother-of-Pearl and Lacquer

Lacquer, a resin from a family of trees found across southern China, Korea and Japan, and mainland South-east Asia, hardens when exposed to oxygen and humidity, giving the objects it has been applied to a glossy sheen and also a protective layer. In Korea, as this exhibition highlights, lacquer has a long history of being combined with gleaming mother-of-pearl, taken from the inside of some molluscs. Surveying the evolution of this art form in Korea, the displays include early examples such as a rare 12th-century trefoil box from the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) with elaborate mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell inlays depicting chrysanthemums (shown below), a lacquered wood palanquin, and a group of five vividly coloured vessels by contemporary artist Chung Haecho (given to the Met by the Republic of Korea in September 2021). They also draw in comparative examples of lacquerware and of mother-of-pearl from elsewhere in Asia.

Trefoil-shaped covered box with decoration of chrysanthemums. Korea, Goryeo dynasty, c. 12th century. Lacquer inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell over pigment; brass wire. (Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1925)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Until 5 July 2022

The Stories We Wear

A Coclé chief’s burial regalia, c. AD 750-1000. (Image: Eric Sucar, University Communications)

Clothing plays an important part of life – whether comfortable loungewear paired with a smart shirt for video calls while working from home, protective hard hats for on-site jobs, an actor’s costume, or glittering regalia to show a ruler’s power. This exhibition explores the stories that emerge from the objects people have worn over 2,500 years, including the gold adornments a Coclé ruler was buried with in ancient Panama around AD 750-1000, a Scythian headdress, the traditional wedding attire of a Hopi bride, a Givenchy gown worn by Grace Kelly, and a Philadelphia Eagles linebacker’s uniform.

Penn Museum, Philadelphia
Until 12 June 2021

Paintings on Stone: Science and the Sacred, 1530-1800

When we think of great paintings of art history, it is perhaps oil on canvas or panel that springs to mind, but for a number of artists a rich variety of stones provided spectacular supports for exquisite works of art. One such artist was Cavaliere d’Arpino, who painted a mythological scene of Perseus, son of Zeus and Danaë, rescuing the princess Andromeda from a sea-monster on a small piece of luxurious lapis lazuli towards the end of 16th century, a work acquired by the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2000.

Johann König, Last Judgement (verso). Oil on alabaster, 1625-1631. Image: Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum, Sweden
Cavaliere d’Arpino (Giuseppe Cesari), Perseus Rescuing Andromeda. Oil on lapis lazuli, c.1593-1594. Image: Saint Louis Art Museum

The practice of painting on stone – including marble, slate, amethyst, porphyry, alabaster, travertine, and obsidian – was developed in Rome by the artist Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547) and grew in popularity across the 1530s and ’40s. Based on research by curator Judith Mann since the acquisition of Perseus Rescuing Andromeda, the exhibition Paintings on Stone puts this overlooked element of Renaissance and Baroque art in the spotlight, and charts its evolution and use in portraits, mythological scenes, and religious compositions across Europe up until the early 18th century. Early examples see artists completely covering their stony surfaces, but by the end of the 16th century, as seen in d’Arpino’s work, painters were instead harnessing the visual qualities of a wider range of unusual materials, leaving portions exposed to incorporate flecks and variations into their compositions. Deep lapis lazuli serves as the sky or water, lined jasper lends itself to the waves of the sea, and markings of alabaster form voluminous heavenly clouds.

Also on view in the exhibition, displayed for the first time, is the museum’s recently acquired and conserved 1570s painting on stone by Jacopo Bassano, Lamentation by Candlelight.

Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri 
Until 15 May 2022

Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design

Exquisite textiles from the Indian subcontinent are celebrated in this exhibition. Dating from the 8th to the early 20th century, the fabrics on view illustrate the development of a rich design vocabulary. Some of the oldest known designs from the region include abstract circles, stripes, and zigzags. The 13th century saw floral patterns become more widespread – one early example is an 11th- to 16th-century fragment (below) – and these patterns were adapted for international markets. Figurative patterns also feature and these textiles show the role of different religions in creating refined works – for instance, a 15th-century cloth from Gujarat depicts deities in the Jain religion, while a shrine cloth from Uttar Pradesh commemorates the Muslim warrior-saint Sayyid Salar Mas’ud, who was also venerated by Hindus.

Textile fragment, India, 11th-16th century. (Image: courtesy of The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum)

George Washington Museum and Textile Museum, Washington DC
Until 6 June 2022

Falcons: The Art of the Hunt

Falcons, fierce birds of prey, have played an important part in a number of cultures around the world. In ancient Egypt, for example, they were the bird of Horus, god of the heavens. Their impressive ability to catch small prey saw them trained as hunting companions in the royal courts of early 8th-century Syria. This sport of falconry spread far and wide over the centuries, as reflected in the falcon-related paintings and objects spanning from Egypt to China in this exhibition. It was a popular pastime for the nobility of medieval England, practised in the Byzantine Empire, and many societies still hunt with falcons today.

National Museum of Asian Art, Washington DC
Until 17 July 2022

Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan

Ideas associated with Zen, the Japanese school of Buddhism that stresses the importance of meditation, have retained their power into the modern age, with many people using its lessons to seek calmness. This exhibition showcases the art of Zen in Japan and China, especially the monochrome ink paintings of Japan’s Zen monks in the medieval period (c.1200-1600), including Sesson Shūkei, Ryōzen, Ikkyū Sōjun, Kaihō Yūshō (below), and Chuan Shinko.

Kaihō Yūshō, The Four Accomplishments. Ink on paper, late 16th century. (Image: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC)

National Museum of Asian Art, Washington DC
Until 24 July 2022


Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes

Competing in athletics, in theatrical festivals, and in warfare was an integral part of ancient Greek society, as reflected by the more than 170 objects from the British Museum on view in this touring exhibition. A figurine of two women playing knucklebones; bronze armour; and a painting of a foot race on a Panathenaic prize amphora (shown below) all illustrate a competitive spirit that could be deadly, sporting, or playful. Previously on view at the Western Australian Museum, Ancient Greeks will travel to the Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand (10 June to 16 October 2022) after its run at the National Museum of Australia.

Panathenaic prize amphora. Black figure pottery, made in Athens and found at Benghazi, Libya, 333–332 BC. (Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum, 2021. All rights reserved)

National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Until 1 May 2022



Iron Men: Fashion in Steel

The place of armour in European Renaissance art and culture is investigated in this new exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Drawing on the Viennese Imperial Armoury and other European and American collections, the show features stunning examples of armour from the late 15th to the early 17th century, as well as paintings, textiles, and sculptures to further set them in context. Different types of armour served for different occasions – in warfare, tournaments, or court celebrations – but they might also be political symbols, diplomatic gifts, and mementos. Among the highlights is the north German costume helmet (c.1526) of Margrave Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach (below).

Helmet with a mask-visor for Margrave Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Northern German, steel and brass, c.1526. (Image: © KHM-Museumsverband)

Picture Gallery, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Until 26 June 2022


Tales from the underground – Bruges in the year 1000

Finds from archaeological excavations in the picturesque Belgian city of Bruges are on display in this exhibition, which offers a snapshot of the metropolis and its inhabitants around AD 1000, a vital period in its development into the flourishing trading hub of the late medieval period. By the year 1000, the city already occupied an important location with access to waterways, was inhabited by traders and a range of craftspeople, and was protected by a count – factors that all contributed to its later successes. Whale bones, reflecting the importance of the sea and the river to medieval Bruges, ice skates, jewellery, pottery, and even the skull of a bear all help to bring the city back to life. Also on view, returning to the city from Denmark (where it was found), is the high-quality seal of Boudewijn IV, Count of Flanders from 988 to 1035, who ruled from Bruges.

Gruuthusemuseum, Bruges
Until 27 October 2023


Power and Gold – Vikings in the East

Gold medallion from the Vindelev hoard. Image: Conservation Center Vejle

A recently unearthed hoard of large gold medallions from Vindelev in Denmark is going on display in a new exhibition that examines the period preceding the Viking Age, when power was gradually being centralised, and how cultural encounters and alliances helped secure the positions of Viking kings. The hoard at Vindelev was buried in the 6th century AD, during a turbulent time with dramatic societal changes and a series of natural disasters. It has been suggested that a wealthy and powerful chieftain at Vindelev, just a few kilometres from the later royal seat of Harald Bluetooth at Jelling, perhaps committed his treasure to the earth, giving it up to higher powers in the hope of reconciliation. As well as discoveries from Denmark, finds from Poland are on view in the exhibition, organised by Vejle Museums and Moesgaard Museum, and draw on the latest research to shed light on Harald Bluetooth’s eastern connections. It was from close alliances with rulers in what is now Poland that this 10th-century king drew great strength.

Utzon Hall, Vejle Art Museum, Vejle
7 April to 23 October 2022


Rome: City and Empire

More than 400 artefacts are on display in Lens to tell the story of Rome from the 2nd century BC (during the Republic) up to around AD 300, when the Empire was facing difficulties. The Roman rooms in the Louvre in Paris are temporarily closed, and so now more than 300 pieces have relocated to Lens, where they are joined by works from other French collections. This expansive offering sets out to show what life was like for inhabitants of the Empire, and to consider the role of art in Rome’s history, addressing themes such as the spread of images of rulers, how Roman styles merged with other traditions in provinces like Gaul, and how trade and immigration, other cultures, and religious influences shaped artistic production in Rome. Exquisite works on show include silver goblets, mosaics, frescoes depicting the Muses – for example, Melpomene (below) – and a spectacular gilded bronze sculpture of Apollo.

Roman fresco depicting Melpomene. (Image: © RMN - Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Hervé

Louvre-Lens, Lens
Until 25 July 2022

From Afar: Travelling Materials and Objects

The sixth exhibition at the Louvre’s Petite Galerie – a space devoted to artistic and cultural education for all – focuses on long-distance journeys of precious materials and objects across continents over time. The exhibition considers the far-reaching trade routes of the ancient world that supplied coveted materials like carnelian, ivory, and lapis lazuli, used, for example, for the exquisite small frog bead discovered in the Sumerian city of Eshnunna, Iraq (pictured below). Dating back to 2900-2340 BC, this amulet representing an aquatic animal is linked to the god of water and wisdom, Enki. Live animals were also brought from afar, sometimes as political gifts and sometimes ending up in royal menageries in Europe. These imports enabled a range of people, including artists, to see creatures like ostriches, giraffes, elephants, and rhinoceroses, some of which were recorded in paintings.

Small bead frog shaped like a frog, discovered in the Sumerian city of Eshnunna, Iraq. Lapis lazuli, 2900-2340 BC. (Image: © musee du Louvre, dist. RMN-GP Philippe Fuzeau)

Musée du Louvre, Paris
Until 4 July 2022

Pharaoh of the Two Lands: The African Story of the Kings of Napata

In the 8th century BC, the vast kingdom of Kush in what is now northern Sudan arose around the capital Napata. For decades, the rulers of this Nubian kingdom also controlled Egypt: ever since King Piankhy’s conquest around 730 BC, which marked the start of the 25th Dynasty. In a reversal of fortunes, as Egypt had long dominated Nubia, the two lands were ruled together under the Kushite kings until 655 BC. This exhibition explores the art of the 25th Dynasty, the importance of the Kingdom of Kush and its kings, especially Taharqa, who ruled between 690 and 664 BC and is shown making an offering to the falcon-god Hemen (below).

King Taharqa and the falcon Hemen (Image: © Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN Grand Palais/Christian Decamps)

Musée du Louvre, Paris
28 April to 25 July 2022

Face to Face: Visor of a Roman horseman

In 1908, the remarkable mask of a Roman cavalry helmet was discovered in Conflans-en-Jarnisy in France. Just a few years ago, in 2019, this 1st-century AD visor depicting a youthful face was acquired by the French state with the support from the La Marck Foundation under the Fondation de Luxembourg for the Musée d’Archéologie Nationale. The results of research since the acquisition, carried out with the Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France (C2RMF), are explained in this exhibition, which presents the restored visor, compares the now-lost grave goods that were once buried with it to those of other tombs, and looks at laboratory analysis and how imaging can bring out details like the crown of leaves around the visor’s curling locks.

Roman visor, 1st-century AD. (Image: © MAN_Valorie Gô)
Musée d’Archéologie nationale, Saint-Germain-En-Laye
Until 9 May 2022


Illustrious Guests: Treasures from the Kunstkammer Würth

Some works of art from the Würth Collection have been on display at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin since 2006. Now – for the second instalment of a four-part exhibition series at different SMB institutions – objects from the collection join those of the Kunstgewerbemuseum and the Bode Museum to delve into the world of the Kunstkammer. These cabinets of curiosity, filled with small items like goblets, miniature sculptures, and boxes of precious stones, were popular among the elite in the 16th and 17th centuries, a chance to show off one’s erudition and diverse range of interests, as well as gifts received from esteemed figures. Many were disbanded, but the Würth Collection has been working to assemble its own version of a Kunstkammer. Among the works featured are a 17th-century alabaster sculpture by Leonhard Kern, depicting subjects from classical mythology, and an ornate c.1610 figurine Diana on the Stag, by Paulus Ättinger, with silver (partly gilded), diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, all used to create an intricate image of the divine huntress and her stag, with dogs, monkeys, a frog, and other animals.

Paulus Ättinger, Diana on the Stag. Silver, embossed, chased, chiselled and partially gilded, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, and draped with pearls; c.1610. (Image: © Würth Collection, photo: Philipp Schönborn, Munich)

Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin
Until 10 July 2022


Hippos: The Horse in Ancient Athens

Horses played an important role in ancient Greek society. Essential for warfare and racing, these creatures were highly regarded and featured both in ancient Greek literature and art. Marble reliefs, Attic vase-paintings, tokens from the agora, a horse-shaped toy from a child’s burial, and more bear witness to the relationship between Athenians of all ages and horses. On view for the first time is a well-preserved horse skeleton from the Phaleron cemetery on the outskirts of Athens, while another highlight is a spectacular life-size Hellenistic bronze horse head, on loan from Florence’s archaeological museum for its first display in Greece.

American School of Classical Studies, Athens
Until 30 April 2022

For a flame that burns on: Antiquities and Memory, Thessaloniki-Macedonia (1821-2021)

This exhibition, which opened last year to mark the bicentenary of the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, looks at the relationship between antiquities and collective memory, and how antiquities were used in the Revolution and Macedonia’s joining the independent Greek state in 1912. Ancient artefacts, archival material, and more chart the years of the Revolution and the longer course of the history of Thessaloniki (in the region of Macedonia), and are used to frame questions about the changes to the city after the Ottoman conquest, the city walls as a record of its history, and how visitors viewed its ancient Greek monuments.

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki
Until 17 July 2022


Stone Age Connections: Mobility in Ötzi's Time

In 1991, the natural mummy of a man who lived sometime between c.3350 and 3105 BC was discovered frozen in the Alps on the border between Austria and Italy. Now known as Ötzi the Iceman, this man was found with parts of his clothing still surviving, and objects including an axe, a knife, and a quiver of arrows. Analysis of some of these objects reveals where they come from: for example, the copper for the axes came from Tuscany, and the flint for some of the tools from around Lake Garda. Also using DNA analyses and study of pottery, this exhibition explores mobility of materials, knowledge, and people in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC.

South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Bolzano
Until 7 November 2022

The Farnese: Architecture, Art, Power

Renaissance collecting is the theme of this exhibition, held across different spaces at the Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta, the 16th-century palace built by Duke Ottavio Farnese. The prominent Farnese family used art and architecture to proclaim their place in the European political and cultural spheres between the 16th and 18th centuries. Included in the exhibition (part of a project to relaunch the restored spaces of the Pilotta Complex this year) are a group of some 200 architectural drawings showing the Farnese’s ambitious building projects, paintings by the likes of Raphael and El Greco which help recreate the family’s art gallery, and coins, medals, and ancient artefacts – such as the Farnese Cup, the substantial sardonyx cameo (above) – which together form a Renaissance curiosity cabinet.

Farnese Cup, sardonic agate cameo. (Image: © courtesy of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples)

Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta, Parma
Until 31 July 2022

Colours of the Romans: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections

This exhibition showcasing the variety of mosaics produced in Rome between 1st century BC and the 4th century AD (as previously featured in Minerva) has been extended both in terms of its duration and its content. Six new mosaics from the Capitoline Collections went on view late last year in their first presentation to the public. Two of the mosaics, dating from the 3rd to 4th centuries AD, feature large tiles of luxurious polychrome marbles and other stone, including basalt and red porphyry, that underscores the consideration high-end mosaicists put into their costly craft and associated materials. Some of the other mosaics come from tombs, such as a monochrome example featuring cupids with sprawling acanthus, discovered during the construction of a church near Trastevere station in 1936.

Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Until 15 June 2022


5,000 Years of Beads

Mainly using beads excavated in the Netherlands, this exhibition delves into the lives of beads from 5,000 years ago to the present. Though small and often simple in shape, beads come in a rich range of colours and materials, from wood to gold, and are found all around the world. How beads were used, who they were worn by, and what they symbolised are all considered. As well as examples of beads – including from prehistoric megalithic tombs and Merovingian graves – images illustrating the use of beads helps set these decorative objects in further context. A statue shows a Mesopotamian prince wearing beads, while an illuminated manuscript with images of coral rosaries (below) emphasises the important role played by the late medieval prayer beads on view.

Prayerbook by Van Hooff. Parchment, Flanders, 1520. (Image: © UBVU)

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden
Until 7 May 2023


animalistic! Animals and Hybrid Creatures in Antiquity

Ancient myths feature many hybrid creatures, among them centaurs, sphinxes, griffins, and chimeras. This exhibition looks at attitudes towards these fantastical beasts and the animal world at large, as represented by spectacular objects created by a number of different ancient cultures. Among them are a bronze axe adorned with a lion’s head and boars’ heads from Luristan (Iran) in the late 2nd millennium BC and a striking c.650 BC clay vessel in the form of the gorgon Medusa possibly from Taranto in Italy (shown below).

Vessel in the form of a squatting gorgon Medusa. Clay, c.650 BC. (Image: © Andreas F. Voegelin, Basel Antiquities Museum and Ludwig Collection)

The Animalistic! exhibition is part of a wider event across four museums in Basel, each with their own animal-related offering. An exhibition at the Museum der Kulturen Basel delves into themes like pets and the use of animals in transport, work, food, war (until 20 November 2022), the Pharmaziemuseum der Universität Basel looks at animals in the history of pharmacy (until 4 June 2022), and the Historisches Museum Basel investigates the relationship between animals and music (until 25 June 2023).

Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel
Until 19 June 2022


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