The Museum of Cycladic Art

Firstly, I’d like to thank my friend Ed for recommending this museum to me – it was absolutely brilliant! Secondly, I would like to take a moment to ponder why it is the Museum of Cycladic Art rather than Cycladic Art Gallery. Usually art is found in galleries rather than museums, no? The museum classifies its stuff as Cycladic art rather than Cycladic artefacts right there in the title, so I couldn’t help but wonder why it calls itself a museum rather than a gallery.

But, I hear you ask, what on earth is Cycladic Art? What is this museum even about?

Well, Cycladic Art refers to art from the Cyclades. The Cyclades are a group of islands in the Aegean Sea, just south-east of the Greek mainland. They form a ring, or a wheel, they are cyclical, hence ‘Cyclades’ and ‘Cycladic’.

As I started to explore the Museum of Cycladic Art, it became very clear very quickly that we were looking at these objects through the lens of studying ancient history rather than considering them as objects d’arte.  There’s no reason why the artefacts couldn’t be both. Cycladic art is hauntingly beautiful. For me, the white triangles that serve as faces swerve between masks of calmness and eerily menacing in their blankness.

A very large Cycladic statue

A massive statue – over a metre tall!

Although I tend to think of these statues and figurines as having triangular faces, there were some fascinating examples where the angles are a lot softer, like the Zintilis Idol.

The Zintilis Idol - one of the oldest figures in the museum

The Zintilis Idol – one of the oldest figures in the museum

If you’ve studied ancient Greek history, it is these statues that spring to mind when you think about art from the Cyclades. So strong is the mind-leaping that it can only be rivalled by Athena popping out of Zeus’ head fully formed in the earliest version of the nursery rhyme There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly…  What you might not know, is that these statues are overwhelmingly female. Overwhelmingly. As in 90% of those that have been discovered depict a female figure. The Museum of Cycladic Art displayed some of the 10% that were male, and they were… different.

As I said earlier, this museum was brilliant. I would go so far as to say it was one of the best I’ve been to. It’s definitely in the top ten. Part of the reason why I enjoyed the Museum of Cycladic Art so much was the little touches, and the thought and the humour that went into the displays. This theatre scene was a particular highlight.

A group of figures dedicated to Dionysos in a small theatre

A group of figures dedicated to Dionysos in a small theatre

It was almost as fun as this theatre scene from the Acropolis Museum.

The X-Men fan in me enjoyed seeing Magneto’s helmet.

Magneto's helmet

Magneto’s helmet

This guy speaks to me on a spiritual level.

A Cycladic figure, drinking and contemplating life

A Cycladic figure, drinking and contemplating life

We’ve all had days like this, right?

Also, there was some full on #museumbum action.

A photograph showing someone demonstrating how to scrape off Olive Oil

Museum Bum!

 

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