Art of the Ancient World is home to one of the world’s premiere encyclopedic collections of antiquities, featuring more than 85,000 works of art from Egypt, Nubia, the Near East, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Anatolia. These works range in date from about 6500 BC to AD 600 and include diverse media—sculpture, jewelry, coffins, mummies, coins, weapons, architecture, vases, carved gems, musical instruments, and mosaics. Special strengths of the collection are Old Kingdom Egyptian art, Nubian art of all periods, Greek vases, Classical coins and gems, and Roman funerary art and imperial portraiture.
The Egyptian and Nubian collections were acquired mainly through the Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expeditions undertaken by George Reisner in the early 20th century. Some of the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art was acquired through participation in the excavations at Assos (Turkey) and Naukratis (Egypt); most was purchased on the European art market beginning in 1885 under the leadership of Edward Robinson and through the agency of antiquities collector/dealer and Boston native Edward Perry Warren.
Art of the Ancient World is currently in the process of transforming its many galleries into freshly reimagined, beautifully designed spaces.