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Art Museum Paper

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Museum Paper
Art 101

Starting my visit to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum I was unsure of the artifact that I would choose to write this paper about. I have been to the Smithsonian museums countless times in my life strolling about taking the exhibits for granted like the many other people raised in the Washington metropolitan area having virtiously unlimited access to them. I was prepared for another mundane visit to the museums, however this visit was different I saw many exhibits that I have studied recently in this class such as the Lascaux caves and other prehistoric art. I found myself engaged as never before as I searched the old halls for what would be subject of this paper an ancient artifact of my very own choosing. I decided on the Cypruss crossroads of civilizations exhibit located on the museums second floor. I was drawn to this exhibit mainly due to the two large stone statues at opposing ends of it’s narrow entrance doors. Upon entry I was amazed at all of the ancient original pieces most of which I can recall learning about in this class. I decided that I would pick a piece and snap a quick picture of myself proudly standing next to it, get the dimensions and backround and be on my way to an A paper in no time. I pulled out my digital camera and began to power it up when I was immediately advised by the museum security guard that I was not authorized to take pictures inside the exhibit due to the delicate nature of the artifacts. I could feel my hopes of a sucessful paper slipping away when suddenly I was struck with an ephiphany. I began to recall that what initially drew me to the exhibit and sparked my intrest was located just outside the exhibit’s entrance. I began walking towards the two statues at the entrance and snapped two legal snapshots of them and began my to organize my findings here they are.

I began to deeply examine the structures and realized they were sphinx a creature from Greek mythology. The sphinx had the body of a loin, a human head and the upturned wings of a bird. The sphinx were heavy three dimensional structures carved with great detail which appeared to be 3 feet in in height and made from some sort of stone. The two sphinx were positioned adjacent to one another in composite view, having thier bodies in profile view displaying their grand wings and their crowned human head in frontal view. The forepaws of the artifacts were crossed one over the other and the upturned wings were etched with stunning detail down to each line of feathers. I later noticed that the crown the sphinx wore was the unified crown of upper and lower Egypt. Both of the sphinx were also wearing a royal headress called a nemes. I also noticed slight traces of a blue and red decoration on the artifacts leading me to belive that they were at one time multicolored. The statues were emotionless, staring straight ahead leaving me with an impression of them both being the appointed the impartial guardians of the exhibit. While observing these artifacts I was struck with a vision of the great sphinx at Gizeh. The great sphinx is the oldest of the seven wonders of the world sitting 65 feet tall and 200 feet long. The great sphinx bears some resemblance to my chosen artrifacts in that they both wear the unfied crown of Eygypt and the nemes. The sphinx however does not have the same facial features and does not have any wings. My artifacts are clean shaven and have the apperance of a young pharoah and the great sphinx has the facial appearance of an old phaoraoh and actually had a ceremonial beard that has been worn down thru time. According to the museum staff and the gallery tag I found out that the title of the artifacts are The Sphinx. The artifacts come from the Cypro-Archaic period (ca.550-500BC) and are made of biodentritic limestone. The height of both artifacts are 86 centimeters. The artifacts were recovered positioned next to a built tomb the necropolis of Tamassos, one of the city kingdoms of the first millennium BC. The artifacts are speculated to have served as guardian figures of a funerary monument.

As I observed these artifacts the lessons learned in this class began flooding my mind and I realized how truly amazing these artifacts were. I was surprised to know that I knew alot about the artifacts just from my homework. I began to see reasons behind works of art like the sphinx. Needless to say I enjoyed this project and will never look at the museums the same again. I would like to learn more about ancient artifacts in the future due to this visit. Its funny how we sometimes take the most awesome things for granted.

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