Exhibition of the Leonard Ν. Stern Collection’s 161 Early Cycladic antiquities opened
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, within the framework of The Met’s agreement with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the Museum of Cycladic Art
Τhe exhibition of the 161 Early Cycladic antiquities of the collection of American collector Leonard N. Stern opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (The Met), signposted: “The Hellenic Republic – Ministry of Culture and Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens: Loan of Cycladic Art to The Met”.
The exhibition takes place within the framework of the implementation of the historic agreement between the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as ratified by the Greek Parliament on September 9, 2022.
As a first step towards the implementation of the agreement made in November 2022, 15 of the most important works of the Leonard N. Stern Collection were presented to the world for the first time at the Museum of Cycladic Art, as part of the exhibition “Homecoming. Cycladic treasures on their return journey”. All the 161 works in the collection are now to be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 10 years under a long-term loan from the Hellenic Republic. At the end of the 10 years, their final return to their country of origin will start gradually. The exhibition of the works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art makes them known to a global audience, while promoting international scholarly cooperation for the study and understanding of Early Cycladic art and in general the culture of the Cyclades of the Early Bronze Age.
As the President and CEO of the Museum of Cycladic Art, Kassandra Marinopoulou, stated:
“After last year’s first worldwide presentation of 15 unique antiquities from the Leonard N. Stern Collection here at the Museum of Cycladic Art, I am very happy for the realization of the transition into the second phase of the agreement. All 161 exhibits of the collection are now presented to The Met’s global audience. The dissemination and promotion of Cycladic and ancient Greek culture internationally has always been the mission of the Museum of Cycladic Art and it is now being fulfilled to the utmost. The completion of this goal is achieved through this historic agreement between the Greek Ministry of Culture, The Met and the Museum of Cycladic Art. The study, analyses, and scientific collaborations at various levels of research of the Cycladic culture will now be a common purpose. For Greece, for the Museum of Cycladic Art, but also for me personally, this is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the Greek State and The Met. This contributes to the global promotion of Cycladic Culture, through the exhibition of the 161 Cycladic masterpieces at The Met, before their return to their country of origin.”
The Leonard N. Stern Collection comprises 161 works created in the Cyclades, mainly during the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3200 to 2000 BC). Almost all the main types and varieties of Early Cycladic marble figurines from the Late Neolithic period to the end of the Early Bronze Age are represented – violin-shaped, Plastiras, Hybrids, Louros, Precanonical, as well as Canonical, with varieties such as those of Kapsala, Spedos, Dokathismata, Chalandriani and Koumasa. The collection also includes rare examples, such as a composite figurine of an early variety of the Spedos type.
Further, within the framework of the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2022 – which provides for long-term scientific cooperation between the three entities with the goal of studying Cycladic Culture – the Metropolitan Museum of Art inaugurates the Cycladic Art Residency Program. This is a scholarship aimed at Greek archaeologists and specialist researchers who wish to work for four to six months on the study and research of the Early Cycladic antiquities of the Leonard N. Stern Collection, in collaboration with the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities of The Met. The first Cycladic Art Residency Program will be announced soon and will start in September 2024.
At the same time, study is already underway for the scholarly publication of all the Cycladic pieces in the Leonard N. Stern Collection on the website of The Met: entries will consist of a full scientific description and documentation, including a technical analysis and documentation of the provenance and acquisition history of each work. The research for the online publication of the collection is being realized by members of the Department of Greek and Roman Art, the Department of Objects Conservation and the Department of Scientific Research of The Met, with the collaboration of scientists from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the Museum of Cycladic Art. An associated printed version from The Met’s Department of Greek and Roman Art will be available soon.
Finally, during the course of the exhibition, educational programs for adults and families built around the collection will be implemented, while a scholarly symposium on Cycladic art will be convened.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART
The Museum of Cycladic Art is a non-profit legal entity under private law, supervised by the Ministry of Culture. It receives no state funding, and its collections belong to the Greek State. Ιts mission is to promote Aegean civilization (from 4000 BC) and to disseminate its art, both locally and internationally, highlighting the evolution of art and its different manifestations, including contemporary art exhibitions revealing the outstanding ways in which antiquity has influenced the present.
In particular, the Museum focuses on promoting the ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, with particular emphasis on Cycladic art of the third millennium BC. It was founded in 1986 to house the figurines it is renowned for, which have inspired artists of the 20th century, such as Brancusi, Modigliani, Giacometti, Hepworth and Moore. The Museum’s permanent collections include more than 3,000 Cycladic, ancient Greek, and ancient Cypriot artefacts, witnesses to the cultures that flourished in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean from the fourth millennium BC to approximately the sixth century AD. Exhibits from the Museum’s permanent collections have been hosted at some of the greatest museums in cities worldwide, like Tokyo (National Museum of Western Art), Kyoto (National Museum), Houston (The Museum of Fine Arts), Brussels (Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire), London (The British Museum), Paris (Galeries nationales du Grand Palais), New York (Onassis Foundation), Madrid (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia), Rome (Musei Capitolini), Beijing (Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City), and Istanbul (Sakip Sabanci Museum).
The temporary exhibitions of the Museum of Cycladic Art focus on archaeology, modern and contemporary art, aiming to introduce the public not only to antiquity but also to important 20th and 21st century artists and explore the links between ancient cultures and modern and contemporary artistic creation. The Museum has invited artists and curators from all over the world to study and get inspired by its collections, creating a dialogue between ancient artefacts and the creations of our times. So far, the Museum has hosted exhibitions on Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Struth, Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Lucas, Ugo Rondinone, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Ai Weiwei, Cy Twombly, George Condo and Βrice Marden, among others.