Tampa Museum of Art Explores Mysteries of the God of the Sea
(March 7, 2014 – Tampa, FL) – The first major U.S. museum exhibition to focus on Poseidon and the sea, this show will explore the myths and iconography of a diverse and important Greek god who bore power over the sea in addition to horses and natural phenomena. Inspired by a nearly life-sized marble statue of the god from the Tampa collection, the exhibition features over 125 works from major public and private collections in the United States and Europe. Poseidon and the Sea will also examine a range of religious cults and the types of votive objects dedicated to Poseidon and related divinities, as well as the myriad ways in which daily life in the ancient Mediterranean world was tied to the sea. This exhibition has been organized by the Tampa Museum of Art and will be on view in Tampa June 14 through November 30, 2014. It is currently on view at Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, NE).
Todd D. Smith, Tampa Museum of Art Executive Director remarked, “The Tampa Museum of Art has enjoyed a three-decade reputation for holding one of the most important collections of antiquities in the Southeast. This exhibition, the first solely organized and toured by the Museum, underscores our commitment to the riches found in our collection, and our desire to add substantially to antiquities. Poseidon allows our visitors many points of entry into the fascinating world of the sea in the ancient world and should appeal to first-time visitors and scholars alike.”
The realms of Poseidon encompassed virtually every aspect of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, from mythology and religious cult to the daily life of its people. This exhibition explores each of his dominions through works of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art produced between 800 BC and 400 AD. Visitors will see striking black-figure and red-figure pottery, alongside sculptures in terracotta, marble, and precious metals, and extraordinary examples of ancient glass, mosaics, carved gems, and coins, all providing a rich picture of life in the ancient world.
Instantly recognizable by his trident and accompanied by fish and dolphins, Poseidon — like his Roman counterpart Neptune — is characterized by his sturdy build, thick wavy hair, and full beard. He looms large in Greek mythology as a central figure in the battle between the Olympian gods that brought order to the world and the monstrous race of Giants that threatened to overthrow them and create havoc. With power over not only the sea but also horses and natural phenomena from floods to earthquakes, Poseidon carried great importance throughout the ancient world. His most famous sanctuary was at Isthmia, but he was also worshiped at landlocked sanctuaries. Votive offerings were meant to illuminate and impress — from a small bronze horse, to schools of lead fish, to representations of the god himself. The exhibition also includes a monumental bronze trident over a dozen feet long, believed to have accompanied a colossal statue of the god that is now lost.
Beyond mythology and religion, however, the sea was the center of daily life in towns and cities along the coast of the Mediterranean. It provided food and other resources, and allowed for easy travel and trade. Allusions to the sea are found throughout ancient art, from cargo boats to warships, and dolphins, fish, and octopi. Blurring the line between art and artifact, visitors will discover illustrations of fishermen and shipbuilders alongside fish hooks and ship models, bringing the world of antiquities to life and offering an intimate look at the timeless beauty and wonder of the sea that continues to resonate with us in the present day.
“This exhibition is an extraordinary opportunity,” according to Chief Curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art Seth D. Pevnick, “to showcase some of the most important objects in the Museum’s collection, and to bring related artwork from leading institutions here to Tampa. Much like the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, life in Tampa is tied to the sea, and I hope this exhibition will help our visitors to make meaningful connections to classical antiquity.”
Together with the exhibition, Pevnick has edited a richly illustrated catalogue, also titled Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult, and Daily Life, with related essays by several leading scholars.
About the Tampa Museum of Art
The Tampa Museum of Art opened its award-winning home in 2010 with a commitment to providing innovative public programs with a strong focus on classical, modern, and contemporary art. The Museum balances a growing collection, including one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeast, and provides a dynamic annual schedule of special exhibitions. It is the region’s largest museum devoted to art of our time and has built a reputation for embracing contemporary photography and new media. Leo Villareal’s Sky (Tampa) (the Museum’s 14,000-square-foot LED installation on its façade) has become an iconic image for Tampa. Since its founding in 1979, the Museum has been dedicated to providing quality education to students and adults, with more than half of its programs offered free of charge. The Museum is home to Sono Cafe, a Slow Food movement café overlooking the Hillsborough River, and has emerged as Tampa’s premiere venue for special events.
General Hours and Admission
The Museum opens daily at 11 a.m. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. General admission prices are: adult $10.00; seniors, groups, military plus one guest $7.50; students $5; and children ages 6 and under free-of-charge. A-pay-what-you-will fee structure is offered every Friday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The Museum’s address is 120 Gasparilla Plaza. Tampa, FL 33602.