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Cyprus exhibition at the Smithsonian

THE SMITHSONIAN’S Museum of Natural History in Washington is to exhibit a large collection of Cypriot artifacts to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cyprus Republic titled ‘Cyprus: Crossroads of Civilisations’.

Cypriot statue, c.600 BC The exhibition will be on view from September 29 until May 1 next year and it will feature about 260 items, many of which are being displayed for the first time in the US.

They cover nearly 11,000 years of history, from the Cypriot-Archaic period through to the Venetian period, and include artifacts from the earliest villages to the masterpieces of medieval religious art.

The exhibition is expected to be displayed at other US museums, and in Canada, which has already expressed an interest in hosting the exhibition.

The formal opening of the exhibition will take place on September 28, by President Demetris Christofias.

Head of Press and Information Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Androula Lanitis, in an interview with Cyprus News Agency said the exhibition was organised under an initiative by Cyprus’ Ambassador to the US Andreas Kakouris.

The Council of Ministers approved the project at the end of 2008.

Lanitis said the Smithsonian accepted the proposal to host the exhibition, set to coincide with celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary on October 1 although, Cyprus officially obtained independence on August 16, 1960.

Cyprus’ Ottoman period from 1571-1878 is not included in the exhibition because it didn’t produce anything of “significant archaeological value”, the Cyprus News Agency said and in the subsequent period of British rule there only remained only samples of folkloric art.

Parallel to the exhibition at the Smithsonian, various events and functions will take place including scientific lectures on Cypriot archaeology, lectures on wine since ancient times, on mythology and Aphrodite, on the first pets people kept, on the Mazotos shipwreck and on Christianity and Byzantium.

Representatives of the Smithsonian visited Cyprus in October last year to inspect all of the items to be displayed.

Lanitis said they showed a keen interest in the skeleton of a cat, found near the archaeological site of Syllourokambos.

The Department of Antiquities will send a replica of the skeleton to the Smithsonian because the skeleton itself cannot be transported.

The Smithsonian will also organise various events and educational programmes to promote the exhibition.

One way will be though the ‘Discovery Station’ and the ‘Discovery Room’.

The Discovery Station will comprise a mobile cart, placed outside the main exhibition hall containing various items such as urns and tools and visitors will have the chance to learn about their use in ancient times.

The Discovery Room is addressed primarily to children, who will be able to have their questions answered by an expert. Children will also have the chance to try on traditional Cypriot costumes.

All of the items which will go on display have been selected by the Curator of the exhibition and the Department of Antiquities, Lanitis said.

“We shall try to take the exhibition on tour until around mid 2012 before Cyprus assumes the six monthly rotating presidency of the European Union,” she added.

Smithsonian exhibitions attract thousands of visitors every year.

A catalogue on the exhibition will be on sale throughout the duration, which will contain, in addition to the exhibits, articles on various historical periods by renowned archaeologists from Cyprus and abroad.

Source: Cyprus Mail [August 08, 2010]

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