‘Cyprus: A Dynamic Island’ at the National Museum of Antiquities of the Netherlands


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On 11 October 2019, the exhibition Cyprus: A Dynamic Island opened at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden (RMO, the National Museum of Antiquities of the Netherlands). This is a unique exhibition about one of the most important crossroads of ancient cultures in the Mediterranean region. It features a selection of 400 superb archaeological objects, more than 300 of which come from Cyprus’s national collections. They represent over 9,000 years of the island’s history, in an impressive setting of huge artistic landscape photographs. The exhibits include life-sized sculptures and portraits in marble and terracotta, imaginative pottery decorated with little faces and animal figures, luxury imported goods from the Near East and Egypt, large bronze cauldrons and weapons, colourful mosaics, gold jewellery and a royal throne inlaid with silver display, highlighting both the diversity and the uniqueness of the island’s culture. This is the first major exhibition on the archaeology of Cyprus to be shown in the Netherlands. Cyprus: A Dynamic Island will be on view until 15 March 2020, including Mondays.

'Cyprus: A Dynamic Island' at the National Museum of Antiquities of the Netherlands

Cyprus is associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love who was born ‘from the silver foam of the sea’ near the Cypriot coast. Thanks to its strategic location, the island has been at the centre of contacts and trade between different cultures in the eastern and western Mediterranean for thousands of years. That constant dynamic movement of people, goods and ideas between Cyprus and the surrounding cultures, and the merging of cultural influences are the key emphases in the exhibition. Sea, landscape and the natural beauty of Cyprus features prominently: metres-high artistic photographs of the natural scenery and subtly-moving projections provide the decor for the exhibition’s story. Visitor will experience the exhibition as a relaxed stroll through a serene landscape, passing highlights of Cypriot culture. A second storyline, that of remarkable historical figures and archaeological excavations on Cyprus since the early 19th century, also focuses on illegal digs and trade in antiquities, a subject that remains high on the Cypriot agenda.

Never before has Cyprus lent so many archaeological objects at once to a foreign museum. Loans have been provided by Department of Antiquities in Cyprus from the Cyprus Museum (Nicosia) and diverse other national, regional, and private Cypriot museums. A life-size terracotta grave statue from the famous sanctuary of Ayia Irini will be provided on loan to the RMO by the Swedish National Museums of World Culture. Princessehof Ceramics Museum in Leeuwarden and the Kunstmuseum The Hague contributed ceramic work by Pablo Picasso, who clearly drew inspiration from archaeological pottery. From Museum Voorlinden the RMO was able to obtain the loan of a present-day Venus (‘Venus Bleue’ by Yves Klein). Other objects come from the RMO’s own collection and from the Allard Pierson in Amsterdam.

The exhibition is accompanied by audio guides (Dutch/English), a book for the general public (150 pp., Dutch/English), series of lectures by Dutch and international experts, guided tours (also for families), workshops, and an afternoon seminar organised in conjunction with Leiden University. There will also be a special audio guide for children and special children’s activities in the school holidays.

The exhibition Cyprus: A Dynamic Island and the accompanying book were prepared in close partnership with the Department of Antiquities in Cyprus (Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works) and the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, and with the support of the A.G. Leventis Foundation; the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in the Netherlands; Cyprus Ministry of Tourism; Press and Information Office, Republic of Cyprus; the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund; Labrys Reizen; the Cultural Heritage Agency (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science); and the Society of Corporate Friends of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden is supported by the BankGiro Lottery.

Source: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden [September 20, 2019]



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