About the Exhibition
Antiquity & America is the outcome of extensive research on the part of a team of Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) staff, Bowdoin faculty and students, and outside collaborators led by Sean P. Burrus (Interim Curator and Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow). The project takes as its starting point the Museum’s large and diverse holdings of antiquities from the Mediterranean and Middle East. Weaving together research into these artifacts, their collectors, and the role of antiquity in American history, the exhibition sheds light on the history of the BCMA collection as a means for understanding Americans’ enduring fascination with the ancient world. In addition to publishing highlights from the BCMA’s collections of ancient art and artifacts, Antiquity & America also draws on European and American paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings in order to reconstruct the cultural landscape that inspired American acquisitions of ancient art and artifacts.
A major goal of Antiquity & America has been to update scholarship on the ancient collection at the BCMA, which was last treated comprehensively over five decades ago, and to reveal the collection’s scope by sharing a representative selection of the over two thousand works of ancient art held by the BCMA. Provenance research is a critical part of any project of this nature. While the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted plans and closed archives during a critical research phase of this exhibition, important progress was made in recovering the histories of the Bowdoin collection. Provenance information is offered in full for each antiquity, and it is anticipated that ongoing research and cataloging begun with this project will permit new discoveries and future updates.