Worcester Art Museum Receives Prestigious NEH Grant

WORCESTER, MASS., August 5, 1999 - The Worcester Art Museum has received a $200,000 implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its exhibition, Antioch: The Lost Ancient City, scheduled to open October 7, 2000. This will be the first major exhibition of the Museum's renowned collection of ancient art, which includes one of the finest collections of Roman mosaics in the western hemisphere. The exhibition will also contain loans from more than 20 museums in Europe and North America.

NEH awards are the result of a rigorous, highly selective review process designed to choose projects worthy of scarce federal funding. The Worcester Art Museum is one of only 16 museums and historical organizations across the nation that will receive NEH funds from the current competitive round of applications.

When commenting on the Antioch exhibition in its award notification letter, Nancy E. Rogers, NEH director of Division of Public Programs said: "The Endowment finds the proposed exhibition to be one that would offer ground-breaking scholarship and that could reshape public perception of Antioch and life in the Roman world. It is a model of scholarly collaboration among institutions, bringing together for the first time since their excavation in 1930, objects unearthed by an American-led team of archaeologists. With a variety of public programs shaped by audience research the project promises an innovative exhibition display incorporating the latest computer technology, which could serve as a model for the field."

The exhibition will showcase the Museum's mosaic treasures from ancient Antioch, a vital crossroad for trade, religion, and culture that the Romans ruled before earthquakes destroyed it in 526 AD. Now part of Turkey, Antioch had been part of Syria, which was a French colony when archaeologists from the Worcester Art Museum, the Louvre, Harvard and Princeton Universities, and the Baltimore Museum of Art excavated the site in 1932. The elaborate mosaics discovered during this excavation covered floors in Antioch's private houses and public buildings.

Christine Kondoleon, a noted expert in Roman mosaics and the Worcester Art Museum's curator of Ancient Art, is organizing Antioch: The Lost Ancient City. Under her direction, the Museum is developing a full range of educational programs and written materials to enhance visitors' experience with the exhibition. These include integrating the exhibition with tour programs, youth classes and adult classes, as well as developing an innovative video about the excavations at Antioch. In addition, the Museum will install the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Discovery Gallery to serve as an orientation to the Museum's Greek and Roman collection. The Discovery Gallery will feature two Antioch mosaics; computers to enable visitors to become 'virtual curators'; and electronic interactive devices to help visitors understand art and the Museum's collection.

Museum Background

Opened to the public in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum is the second largest art museum in New England. Its exceptional 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Throughout its first century, the Worcester Art Museum proved itself a pioneer: the first American museum to purchase work by Claude Monet (1910) and Paul Gauguin (1921); the first museum to bring a medieval building to America (1927); a sponsor of the first major excavation at Antioch, one of the four great cities of ancient Rome (1932); the first museum to create an Art All-State program for high school artists (1987); the originator of the first exhibition of Dutch master Judith Leyster (1993); and the first museum to focus its contemporary art programs on art of the last 10 years (1998). The Museum's hours are: Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission: FREE for members; Non-members: $8 Adults; $6 Seniors and full-time college students with current ID; FREE for youth 17 and under; FREE for everyone Saturday mornings 10am-noon sponsored by The TJX Companies and Massachusetts Electric Company. For more information, call (508) 799-4406 or visit the Museum at 55 Salisbury Street in Worcester.