Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cambodia and Cyprus at the Smithsonian

I recently had the opportunity to visit the new Cambodian and Cypriot exhibits at the Smithsonian. Though the accompanying literature does not mention it, Cambodia and Cyprus presumably sent their exhibits to the Smithsonian as part of their MOU's with the United States.

The Cambodian exhibit is entitled, Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the Cambodian National Museum. See:

The Cypriot exhibit is entitled, Cyprus: Crossroads of Civilization. See

Both exhibits were well done, but I preferred the Cambodian exhibit over the Cypriot one because the quality of the artifacts. Perhaps, that is unfair. The focus of the Cypriot exhibit was on archaeology and history. The focus of the Cambodian exhibit was on art.

The Cambodian exhibit highlighted some magnificent bronzes found near Angkor Wat, some of which have only been recently conserved. I was particularly impressed by this effort. Nothing seemed over cleaned. Many of the bronzes had beautiful patinas.

The Cypriot exhibit was heavy on early pottery of more interest to the specialist, but there were also some magnificent icons. The coins from the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation were also top notch specimens, but they were poorly lighted. And what of coins from excavations, particularly given all the archaeological emphasis on context? My favorite artifacts, though were the two sphinxes at the door.

Though the Cambodian exhibit is superior, at least in my opinion, both exhibits are well worth visiting if you are in the Washington, DC area.

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