In recent years, the Carlos Museum has transformed its permanent
galleries of ancient Egyptian, ancient American and African art.
Now, the museum’s signature classical art collection is about
to undergo its own dramatic metamorphosis.
When the Carlos’ building (designed by renowned architect Michael Graves)
opened in 1993, the works of Greek and Roman art displayed in the central gallery
were few and consisted largely of temporary loans. But after its namesake Michael
Carlos pledged $10 million in 1999 for classical acquisitions, the museum hired
a classical-art curator, Jasper Gaunt, to steward the collection and seek out
the best possible new additions.
The collection’s rapid growth in size and quality is the impetus for the
dramatic renovation and reinstallation taking place this summer. The classical
art galleries will close after Commencement on Monday, May 10, and are scheduled
to reopen Sept. 18. All of the museum’s other exhibitions and facilities
will remain open during the renovation.
“Through the generosity and courage of Mrs. [Thalia] Carlos, who has continued
to advance the vision of her late husband, we have been able to acquire Greek
and Roman antiquities whose quality and significance are without parallel in
any collection in Atlanta, public or private,” Gaunt said. “In more
than a few cases, the Carlos now has the finest examples in America—and,
in the case of our portrait of the Roman emperor Tiberius, in the world.”
The renovated galleries will present the collections to their best advantage.
Many important acquisitions made in the last several years will be displayed
for the first time and many have undergone revealing conservation treatments.
Architectural adjustments include provision for large new niches for sculpture,
and new lighting in combination with new colors and fabrics will flatter the
objects as never before.
When it reopens, the large central gallery known as Carlos Court will display
some of the largest and most significant objects of Greek and Roman art in the
collection. The Laszlo-Brummer Gallery will show Greek art from its earliest
(pre-Cycladic) manifestations until the seventh century B.C., while the adjacent
Rollins Gallery continues the Greek story into Hellenistic times.
The small circular space, which previously displayed the statue of Leda, will
open up to accommodate the museum’s continuing program of loans from
the Shelby White and Leon Levy Collection in New York. A side gallery will
be an intimate, villa-like setting for Roman art. In this way, the story of
Greek and Roman art can be told respecting both chronological developments
and thematic strands that traverse time.
This summer, the museum will announce plans for the reopening celebration and
a schedule of educational programming and events for adults, children and families.