Saturday, August 06, 2011

Monumental statue on loan to NY Met for 10 years

New York Times (Carel Vogel)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s flair for the dramatic will not end when the blockbuster Alexander McQueen exhibition closes at midnight on Sunday. Its encore will be theatrical, but in an entirely different way. A colossal statue of a pharaoh weighing more than nine tons is heading to the Met by ship from Germany. When it arrives in New York in the next 10 days, it will go on view in the museum’s Great Hall.

The Egyptian Museum in Berlin owns the statue but is in the middle of construction and renovations and so has agreed to lend the pharaoh to the Met for 10 years. For the first year the statue will be hard to miss. Plans call for putting it on the north side of the Great Hall, signaling the way to the Egyptian galleries.

Installing such a monumental stone work will take an entire day. It will lie on its back in an enormous crate on what Met officials describe as “high-tech wheels” and be moved through the galleries to the Great Hall. In about a year it will move again — to the Egyptian galleries, naturally.

Although the Met has its own world-class collection of Egyptian art, it has no monumental sculpture of this scale. One reason is that its Egyptian department was not founded until 1906, and it couldn’t catch up with institutions like the British Museum in London or the Louvre in Paris, which were able to snap up some giant pieces about a century earlier.

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