Presenting the largest collection of ancient Palmyrene tomb sculptures outside of Syria, The Road to Palmyra at The Glyptotek is the first exhibition in Denmark devoted to the culture of Palmyra: an ancient oasis city located in present-day Syria.
At a time where globalisation, migration and cultural conflict permeate the agenda, Palmyra attracts attention with its fascinating history as one of the ancient world’s most sophisticated and multicultural societies and the current conflicts in Syria have brought about a renewed focus on the value of its unique cultural heritage. The Road to Palmyra features a broad presentation of the area’s special history and marks the return of the Palmyrene tomb sculptures from Los Angeles, where they have been on loan to The J. Paul Getty Museum since 2018.
Christine Buhl Andersen, Director of The Glyptotek, says: “It is with great pleasure that we will be able to welcome our collection home again and to present the visitors to the Glyptotek a unique insight into the fascinating history of the oasis city Palmyra. With our unique collection of sculptures we can offer an insight not only into the life lived in ancient Palmyra but also into how the city’s history has been interpreted through the ages.”
Organised by Anne Marie Nielsen, curator of Greek and Roman art at the Glyptotek, and focussing on the first three centuries CE, when Palmyra played an important role locally, regionally and globally, this exhibition takes the Glyptotek’s own unparalleled collection of ancient tomb sculptures from the city as its point of departure. The more than 100 portraits included in the exhibition constitute an important and specific aspect of the ancient city’s cultural monuments; they are supplemented by sculptures and other items from the Roman Empire, photographs from the 19th century, paintings, and much more. One special installation will take the form of a Palmyrene burial chamber where visitors will experience a sense of how it must have felt to enter one of Palmyra’s tombs whilst they still had an active function.
The Glyptotek’s collection of Palmyrene portrait sculptures has in recent years been the focus of comprehensive research by way of the “Palmyra Portrait Project” at Aarhus University. The Road to Palmyra has been based partly on knowledge gained from this research and Professor Rubina Raja – the leader of the project – has acted as consultant in the creation of this exhibition. In connection with the exhibition, the Glyptotek’s own research team has examined the lost colours of one of the most famous pieces in the museum’s collection, “The Beauty of Palmyra”. Based on the results of these examinations, the researchers have for the first time created a digital reconstruction of the portrait, giving an idea of how the beauty might have looked in her time.
The story of how the portraits ended up in the Glyptotek will also be told, for example, through the extensive correspondence between the founder of the Glyptotek, Carl Jacobsen, and the Danish Consul in Beirut, Julius Løytved, who were close friends in the 1880s and 1890s when the greater part of the collection was acquired.
The exhibition is designed by the renowned Danish designer and scenographer Anne Schnettler, while the award-winning sound designer Peter Albrechtsen and film director Sun Lee Engelstoft have produced a soundscape, bringing the sounds of the oasis into the Glyptotek.
A comprehensive catalogue to mark the “The Road to Palmyra”, which features contributions from several Danish and international researchers, will be published to coincide with the exhibition.
Kilde: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Dantes Plads 7
1556 København V
Tir-søn 11-18, tor 11-21
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