A rare exhibition of Etruscan treasures from the private collections of Italian Prince Fabrizio Alliata and the Gregorian-Etruscan Museum of the Vatican Museums will make its only stop in the United States June 1 through Oct. 31, 2004, at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee, Okla. “Unveiling Ancient Mystery: Etruscan Treasures” contains more than 200 pieces of Etruscan gold jewelry and 30 pieces of Etruscan bronze and terra cotta artifacts. This will be the first time that many of the Vatican Museums’ pieces have been exhibited abroad and the first time most of the gold jewelry ever has been exhibited. The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is located on the campus of St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, which is 30 miles east of Oklahoma City.
“Prince Fabrizio Alliata’s collection is the finest example of Etruscan gold jewelry I have had the opportunity to both see and study,” said Vatican Museums Director General Dr. Francesco Buranelli.
The exhibition is being brought to Oklahoma by the National Exhibits Foundation, which is headed by executive director Rev. Malcolm Neyland.
“Prince Fabrizio Alliata has been extremely generous in allowing the United States, in particular the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, to be the first public venue of more than 220 excellent Etruscan pieces. Not even the Italians have had the first opportunity to view this fine collection from the prince. And the pieces from the Etruscan Vatican Museums are outstanding,” Rev. Neyland said.
Before Rome’s rise as the dominant world power, Etruria was the first great civilization of ancient Italy. The Etruscan civilization thrived between 950 and 300 B.C. in the current-day regions of Tuscany and Umbria in northern Italy. The Etruscans were highly accomplished artisans who rose to power, then disappeared, leaving behind many unanswered questions concerning their origin and their influence.
Little is known about the Etruscan language. Their alphabet has been deciphered; however, Etruscan literature is extremely rare, and the Etruscan vocabulary has yet to be understood. Like the Egyptians, much of what we know of the Etruscans comes from art and artifacts discovered in elaborate burial tombs with detailed frescoes featuring Etruscans’ love of music, games and racing.
“Etruscan Treasures” offers outstanding examples of what remains of Etruscan art. The Etruscans were famous for their gold jewelry, which shows such highly advanced metalworking skills as granulation, the craft of soldering hundreds of tiny gold beads to the surface being decorated. Etruscan artists created pendants featuring human faces and echoed nature through flowers, acorns and leaves. The still bright and lustrous jewelry featured in “Etruscan Treasures” was crafted in exquisite detail sometime between 500 and 700 B.C. and is evidence of the great wealth and artistic gift of the Etruscan people. The exhibition also will include items from everyday Etruscan households, including vases, tools, mirrors and candelabras.
“Etruscan Treasures” will lead visitors through life-size, full-color reproductions of the Etruscans’ whimsical and delicately executed tomb paintings. Antenna Audio tours will be available.
In addition, a variety of celebratory events will be held in conjunction with “Etruscan Treasures.” Lectures and demonstrations will be offered, including
presentations by Dr. Buranelli of the Vatican Museums and other scholars. Education programs for both adults and children will be available.
Admission to “Etruscan Treasures” will be $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and tour groups, $10 for youths ages 6 to 16, $10 for those with a student I.D. and free for children age 5 and younger. Tickets include the cost of the Antenna Audio tour.
The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art was founded in 1919 by Fr. Gregory Gerrer, an artist and Benedictine monk who was a member of St. Gregory’s Abbey. The museum boasts a collection of more than 3,500 paintings and objects from around the
world and features one of the region’s most extensive Egyptian exhibitions. The Mabee-Gerrer also includes fine objects from such ancient cultures as Mesopotamia, Greece and the Roman world. Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and American paintings are on permanent display, and the museum has noteworthy collections of Native American, pre-Columbian, African/Oceanic and Asian artifacts. The museum is an independent, 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.