Illuminating the Past: Exhibition and Symposium (October 19)

When you are home and it starts to get dark at night, what do you do? Most likely you turn on the lights, electrically powered with the flip of a switch. Well, imagine you were sent back in time 3000 years, swept into a world where electricity could not even be fathomed. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and many others relied on ceramic oil lamps, one of the earliest forms of a controlled and portable light source. Here at the museum, we have an exhibition devoted to exploring the uses, history, artistry, and cultural connections of utilitarian ceramics of the ancient world.

Illuminating the Past features more than 40 oil lamps and vessels from the approximately 130 artifacts donated by Harvey and Deborah Breverman housed here at the Miami University Art Museum and will be on display through December 14. Students in Dr. Steve Tuck’s Spring 2019 class, Greek and Roman Decorative Art (ART 384) had the opportunity to co-curate this exhibition, working with the museum staff to do their own research and even creating the text throughout the gallery.

Walking through the exhibit, you can learn about the function of these ancient lamps, whether it be utilitarian, religious, or symbolic, and how ancient people would use them in their everyday lives. Iconography is a big part of any art form, and here you can understand how cultural and political motifs translated throughout regions and are still studied today. Looking closer, you can see the special care that was taken in creating these works, and noticing the designs that are both beautiful and meaningful. Also included is a video tutorial showing how one would make and light an oil lamp, just in case your electricity ever fails or you accidentally end up in 1200 BCE.

On Saturday October 19, MUAM is proud to be hosting a symposium for Illuminating the Past, here at the museum from 9-5. Featuring various established speakers, the day will be filled with interesting presentations relating to the exhibition. Come learn about the history and utilitarian uses of ancient ceramics while you get the chance to listen to a range of scholars discuss the importance of classical art! Click here for more information about the symposium, which is entirely free and open for all, and if you are interested you can register here to gain more information.

As always, be sure to keep up with our social media to be informed of any upcoming events and we hope to see you soon!