A millenarian culture, 3 important cultural institutions, 4 events for an ambitious project that has never been tested before in Italy: this is “Egitto Pompei”. Starting officially today, March 5th, it is going to be a series of four big itinerant expositions linking the Museo delle Antichità Egizie (also formally known as Museo Egizio), the Pompeii Archaeological Park and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Museo Archeologico nazionale di Napoli – MANN).
Thanks to the strict collaboration and art sharing among the Superintendence for the Cultural Heritage of Pompeii, the Museo Egizio and MANN, “Egitto Pompei” aims to narrate the Egyptian influence among the Mediterranean cultures and the strong, yet special union between Egypt and Rome. During these four occasions, archaeological pieces from the pharaonic era, the late Hellenism, the Republican and Imperial Roman times will share the same spaces and communicate a story made of material and religious connections. How has religion affected daily life and artistic tastes across the Great Sea? Egitto Pompei answers it.
After yesterday’s press presentation with the Major of Turin Piero Fassino and the young Museum director Christian Greco, everything is set and ready in Turin for the first appointment titled “Il Nilo a Pompei, visioni d’Egitto nel mondo romano” (The Nile in Pompeii, visions of Egypt in the Roman World).
This exhibition will last till September 4th and represents the first temporary exposition after the renovation of this important Museum; indeed 600 m2 will be inaugurated and finally open to the public today.
“Il Nilo a Pompei” features 330 pieces and, among them, 172 are those coming from other Italian and International Institutions. The tour winds through nine sections starting from the first reception of Egypt in the Greek world, especially after Alexander the Great’s conquest and under the Ptolemaic dynasty, till the export of the most popular Egyptian cults, such as the ones based on Isis, Osiris, Serapides and Harpocrates, in the Italian peninsula already during the Republican age. For the first time, Turin will host frescos from the Iseum, the Temple of Isis, and from the House of the Golden Bracelet with interesting 3D reconstructions of two domus: the House of Loreio Tiburtino and, again, the House of the Golden Bracelet.
Next step starts on April 16th in Pompeii with “Egitto Pompei” which will stretch along the Pompeian archaeological area: the exposition in the Palestra Grande (Large Gymnasium) and what we can describe as an “Egyptian track”.
This tour, starting from the temple of Isis, will guide and show visitors through those domus housing Egyptian-inspired decorations and works of art and has its end point with the visit to the House of Loreio Tiburtino.
In the Palestra Grande, eight monumental statues loaned by the Museo Egizio will found their temporary location and will be followed by a video installation: seven statues depicting the Goddess Sekhmet and one of the Pharaoh Thutmosis III, seated on its throne.
These masterpieces have been chosen to underline the prominence of the solar cult and to look back at the cosmos’ origins through the eyes of the Egyptians.
The last two events will both take place in Naples at the MANN, the second museum for the importance of its Egyptian section in Italy. The third chapter of “Egitto Pompei” titled “Egitto Napoli. Culti orientali in Campania”, starts on June 28Th when, finally, new exposition rooms will be open to the public.
This new museum tour , the “Sala dei Culti Orientali” (Oriental Cults Room), is dedicated to cults originated in Egypt and Asia, then adopted and successfully spread in Campania. The most important pieces will the alexandrine obsidian cups found in Stabia and depicting cult scenes, rich and intricate vegetal decorations.
At the end, on October 8th, the MANN is going to experiment what everyone interested in cultural heritage and archaeology in Italy was waiting for: the reopening of its Egyptian collection after five years of closing due to structural adjustment works. The collection has its “natural home” in five rooms that will be now thematic for an easy and enjoyable fruition, and take their name by the story the artefacts tell and recall to the memory: Men and Pharaohs, the Tomb and funerary equipment, Mummification, the Magic and religious world, Egypt in Campania.
The selection kept by the great Southern museum is wide and variegated and counts more than 1200 objects, a series of artefacts born with the Borgia-Picchianti collection in the first decades of the XIX century.
This long and rich exhibition has the merit of showing how old and well-established has been the “Egypt mania”, way before Napoleon and its expedition in the Nile valley in 1789. Romans seemed to have had a strong liking for Egypt and they fully adopted some aspects of the Egyptian way of life, at least those more practical or fascinating, like religion, as this project demonstrate.
“Egitto Pompei” represents, as a storytelling event, the “chit chat” among different cultures and the mutual influence coming from this meeting but it attests all its potential as a plan.
The institutional collaboration, the mutual exchange of pieces, despite the risks this might cause, the interaction and integration among the traditional “museum” idea, the application of new technologies and the attention to public’s interests are signs of a progress in the cultural heritage study and its management, both tricky areas in Italy. While “Egitto Pompei” will undoubtedly satisfy the natural curiosity towards Egypt and unveil its peripheral “presence”; the reopening of the Egyptian rooms in the National Archaeology Museum of Naples, far from being the conclusion of this project, is a sign of hope for the future of cultural institutions.
youtube video to watch footage
“Il Nilo a Pompei” Visioni d’Egitto nel mondo romano”
Torino, Museo Egizio, Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6
March 5th – September 4th 2016
For opening hours and ticket prices
Pompeii Archaeological Area, Palestra Grande – Porta Anfiteatro
April 16th – November 2nd 2016
For further information: http://www.pompeiisites.org
“Egitto Napoli. Culti orientali in Campania”
Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Piazza Museo 19
starting from June 28th
For further information
“Egitto Napoli Collezione Egizia”
Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
starting from October 8th
Museo Egizio: Museo Egizio Official Facebook page
March 4th press conference in Turin: Museo Egizio Official Facebook page
Collage: clockwise: a detail of the fresco from the House of the Golden Bracelet,
an obsidian skyphos from Stabiae with a cult scene, Sekhmet diorite statue from Thebes,
Karnak, temple of Amenhotep III, New Kingdome/XVIII dynasty
MiBACT official site