Some of our Level 1 and 2 galleries are closed in anticipation of an ambitious and exciting transformation of the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World. Scheduled to open in Spring 2021, four galleries on Level 2 of the Wing will provide visitors with a grand entry to the MFA’s renowned collection of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine art—one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world. Many of the featured works are among the oldest in the collection, yet they will tell new stories, reflecting our time through the art of the past. With innovative new displays, visitors of all ages can understand the legacy of an ancient way of life and how it resonates today.
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.