Frankly, I was quite surprised that a museum hosting thousands of costly pieces from all over the world can cost nothing to come inside and explore. It was September, 10, a sunny autumn day, and I liked the opportunity to find out something new and exciting. The man at the entrance said that we had to climb the stairs to the top floor first and then make our way down exploring. While climbing I could notice that the premises were spacious and well-lit; the walls and the floor were light chestnut tiles creating a warm and hospitable impression without distracting from the exhibition. The museum is also special for having these huge French windows that add a modernist look to its outside and ensure perfect light to view the pictures on sunny days.
Although the museum hosts surprisingly huge collection of world-famous painters such as Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Mondrian, Magritte and many others I spent most of my two-hour visit in the hall where ancient Natural Art was collected. The first thing that attracted my attention was the Coffin of Horankh, representing the Natural Art of Egypt and dated 700 B.C. Almost two meters high, this colossal thing is carved from a hollow tree trunk with the eyes made from obsidian to render a genuinely human glittering look. Fortunately, the hall where it stands is well-lit; otherwise it would have looked quite eerie. They say the coffin used to hold an actual mummy of the person who was rich enough to afford such a fancy coffin. Despite the fact that the coffin supposedly holds just a human, a distinguished man called Horankh, the whole piece invokes association with Osiris, the God of the dead. The upper part of the coffin looks like Osiris head with a striped headdress and long pointed braided beard. Both the beard and the headdress are known as purely royal attributes in Egypt and render the whole piece a truly Egyptian look. The face is painted green, the color associated with spring growth, rebirth and afterlife in Ancient Egypt. This face has gigantic features beautifully carved bright eyes, massive nose and mouth and gigantic ears, creating the impression of high intellectual abilities of the God. The bottom of the piece is shaped like human feet and there is a mysterious inscription in Egyptian characters around it. The inscription is largely damaged but the historians managed to read it and claim that it identifies Horankh. The body of the coffin is whapped in grayish plaster thus creating an impression that it is the God himself who is mummified.
Another piece that drew my attention was a display with ancient jewelry three pairs of Etruscan grappolo earrings and three Greek necklaces that, though never worn together, seem to be a perfect match to each other. I found out that the strange word grappolo is a scientific term used to denote anything resembling a bunch of grapes. These earrings are made of gold and, despite the fact that they are were made around 5th-3d century B.C., they still look gorgeous. The upper part looks like a horseshoe with the top row of granulation looking like beads and the lower triangular part creates a strong association with grapes for which the earrings got their name. There are also faces with abundant wavy hair called maskettes in the centre and on the outer sides of the earrings. It can be easily noticed that the earrings have been heavily damaged but restored masterfully and still preserve their imposing look. According to the guide (talking to a group of Japanese students that I happened to overhear by chance) such earrings were worn by females in Etruscan funerary sculpture.
Unlike the earrings, the necklaces are very different from each other and represent different periods in Greek history. The top one, dated 1st century B.C., is made of massive heavy-looking pointed pieces resembling some animals teeth. It is made of gold and gilded glass and looks like an object for ritual use. The one in the middle is more elegant and light, made of round and oval-shaped beads. The round beads, being orange, graphite and translucent in color, create an impression of being made of stone but according to the information below the display it is gold and glass. The third necklace is coral red string of beads and looks very dressy and special.
I was truly mesmerized with this magic place and its outstanding collection. It is fascinating to look at the objects used by distinguished people from the past and imagine how they wore and cherished these objects. I would spend even more hours wandering around this extraordinary place but I had an urgent appointment so I had to leave before I could appreciate all the exhibits. It gives me perfect reason to come back there again someday.
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