The Morgens West Foundation Galleries of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum reopened on Nov. 10 after nine months of renovations that redesigned the layout, added new artwork and integrated instructional videos into some exhibits, according to a Nov. 6 University press release.
The newly renovated galleries are organized according to the ancient civilizations of the Near East, a loosely defined region in Southwest Asia, according to the press release. The new layout emphasizes technological discovery, displaying historical innovations including writing, the wheel, pottery and sculpture.
Longtime donors to the Carlos Museum Jim and Sally Morgens provided funding for the renovations, according to the press release. Director of Communications and Marketing at the Carlos Allison Hutton declined to say whether the Morgens’ donation was the only source of funding for the renovations.
Melinda Hartwig, curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian and Near Eastern Art, helped design the new exhibition and said she was inspired by other installations.
“It needed a different vision,” Hartwig said. “After I had viewed other installations in the United States and overseas, I saw the things that could be done to make the Ancient Near East more … relevant to the 21st century.”
The Emory exhibition design team worked with architectural and design firm Lord Aeck Sargent, according to the University press release.
Hartwig said the Near Eastern galleries were the last of the Carlos’ galleries to be renovated from their original installation in 1993.
The galleries’ walls were painted green to reflect the fertile landscapes of the Near East, according to Hartwig. In addition, Joe Gargasz, the Carlos’ exhibition design director, reorganized the layout of the galleries to create more open space.
The galleries also now include graphics and videos. One of the videos depicts the city of Uruk in 2700 B.C. A graphic shows Neo-Assyrian battle reliefs — carvings that portrayed the Neo-Assyrian armies in action — in their original context in palaces.
Hartwig said she plans to further develop the galleries by “working on a script to show the development of writing that will pair cuneiform with Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.” This project will include educational games, such as tracing the development of ancient script.
Although the six permanent galleries have already been renovated, the museum will continue to update its existing exhibitions, Hartwig said.
“My fingers are crossed that the next installation [to be renovated] will be Egypt,” Hartwig said. “We have just recently acquired a very important collection of Ancient Egyptian, Near Eastern and Classical works of art, so this will spur us on to renovate already existing Egyptian galleries.”