Gems and Jewelry from the Ancient Mediterranean

This gallery is 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 December 18, 2021, five 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.

Step into this veritable jewel box featuring more than 150 items of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan jewelry—earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, pins, and wreaths—made of precious metals and stones. A dazzling gold standout is the renowned 4th-century BCE earring depicting Nike, Greek goddess of victory, driving a chariot. The gallery also showcases more than 100 miniatures from the MFA’s distinguished collection of Greek and Roman engraved gems, considered the best in the US. Highlights include cameos—gems carved in relief that were especially popular in the early Roman imperial period. A superb example depicting the wedding of Cupid and Psyche or an initiation rite once belonged to the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. An in-gallery video and illuminating illustrations reveal how ancient craftsmen used millennia-old tools and techniques—and some ingenuity—to make these marvels in miniature.

Anne and Blake Ireland Gallery (Gallery 210A)


The renovation of this gallery was made possible with support from the Vance Wall Foundation.