Theater and Performance
Wine, Poets, and Performers in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece: Greek Theater Gallery (Gallery 215C)
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 in Fall 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.

Tragedy and comedy as we know these theatrical forms today were developed by the Greeks as early as the 6th century BCE. This gallery features rare objects depicting scenes and actors from plays, many of which are now lost to us. Ephemeral performances of dancers, musicians, singers, and actors live on here. In ancient Greece, plays began as a way to honor Dionysos—the Greeks wrote and performed for the festivals held in his honor. The gallery features vases painted with scenes from the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides as well as the comic playwright, Menander, whose marble portrait (late 1st century BCE or early 1st century CE), one of the finest in the world, anchors the gallery. Many of the plays gained a wider audience when the Greek settlers of Southern Italy and Sicily embraced this art form, building stone theaters to feature the spectacles, and local painters in the region captured scenes on vases.