Culture in Athens — A trip to the Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is housed in a majestic building in downtown Athens that was built towards the end of the 19th century, it is typical of classicized architecture – a mix of Greco-Roman and renaissance features. The clean, traditional exterior correlates with the modern atmosphere inside, a direct contrast to the ancient artefacts that are kept within the museums walls. The main exhibition is well organised and it is suggested that you take the elevator from the 4th floor and work your way through the 4 exhibitions. Since I arrived quite late, it was quiet which really helped me take in the information that was being given to me. Overall I felt that the museum was well structured, the information presented was clear and the museum was laid out in a way that meant you really got the best of the experience.
The 4th floor is dedicated to “scenes from daily life in antiquity”. This displays ancient objects that may have been used everyday, alongside the context within which they would have been used. The themes explored are: the world of the Gods, heroes and Eros, activities of men and women in the public and private realm, religion and the afterlife. The most interesting part for me was about the Gods, heroes and Eros, as unlike many other people my age, when I was younger I knew very little and wasn’t taught about Greek Gods or myths, so anything I know now I have learned mostly while living in Greece. For example I didn’t know that Hercules is considered to be the most popular hero in Greek mythology and that Eros was also one of the most popular Gods but this changed over time and he was considered mischievous and represented as just a chubby, naughty, child.
The 3rd floor is about cyprus, ancient art and culture and houses a whopping 550 artefacts from the 4th millenium BC! I can’t even imagine! This floor highlights the patterns and shapes used in prehistoric and historic Cyprus. The collection of vases and the workmanship involved in very impressive considering the technology at the time. My favourite thing on this floor however were the human figurines and their unique representation of the human form.
The 2nd floor represents Ancient Greek Art in general from 2nd century BC to 4th century AD. During this long period the social and political landscape of Greece changed dramatically and this is represented through the art on display.
The piece de resistance and long-anticipated is the 1st floor where the cycladic art is on display.The collection comprises of many objects cast in clay, stone, metal and marble from vases to arrow heads. The highlight of the museum for me was to see the famous “canonical” type figurines which are female figurines made of marble and are highly stylized. Most of the figures are naked with an almond or triangular shaped head, arms folded under the chest – but not touching, slightly bent knees and pointing feet.
I was also taken in by this little fellow called “The Cup Bearer” it is a man, sitting down, with one arm tucked under another arm which is raising a cup. This really resonated with me as it could be a figure of anyone nowadays drinking a cup of tea or something and so I thought to myself things change so drastically and yet in someways they still remain.
If you are in Athens anytime and want to learn more about the Greek culture through art then this museum is not to be missed. Also if you are interested in primitive, simplistic art forms then the cy cladic figurines are also extremely inspirational.