Take advantage of this rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes view of our conservation staff at work. This intricate mosaic was excavated in the 1930s at the site of ancient Antioch, in what is now southeastern Turkey. The city was a center of culture and learning and its people were known for their luxurious lifestyles.
The mosaic once paved the courtyard of a third-century Roman house overlooking the Mediterranean. Its central panel shows three cupids each riding a dolphin and casting a fishing line into a sea teeming with marine life.
The mosaic was acquired by the MFA in 2002 from Dumbarton Oaks Research Center in Washington, DC, where it had been stored, unseen, for more than sixty years. Since its acquisition, the fragile mosaic surface has been stabilized, and crumbling concrete and rusting iron backings replaced with new supports. Our conservators are now meticulously cleaning the surface of the mosaic and reconstructing its patterned outer border—work that is taking place on view to the public through early 2006.
Visit the second-floor Classical gallery to learn more about the mosaic’s design and original archaeological setting, and to follow the progress of this major conservation effort.