Saturday, 21 February 2009

Greeks in Glasgow

Burrell Collection, GlasgowThe Greeks have landed at Glasgow's Burrell Collection, so I made the journey (from Lanuvium, of course) to pay my respects.

First off, this is not the easiest gallery in the world to get to. It was deliberately sited, in the 1980s, in a suburban woodland location to minimise exposure to pollution, so private transport is recommended.

And second, the exhibition is rather disappointing in scale and presentation.

Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes

This is "a major touring exhibition from the British Museum". Now, the British Museum undeniably has an unrivalled ancient Greek collection. But they've been rather parsimonious in parcelling out the artefacts on tour.

Focussing on war, politics, drama and sport, there is a notable emphasis on red figure pottery, and very little else! A bust of Sophokles, a couple of perfume pots, some miniature statuary and relief carvings, a case of weapons (helmet, greaves, arrowheads, and spear point) and an inscription. Frustratingly (for visitors who lack a Roman emperor's facility with the Greek language), the inscription -- a list of war dead from the Peloponnesian War -- is untranslated. Also, the design of the exhibition -- a few glass cases dotted around a fancifully painted centrepiece -- seems a little uninspired.

Hit or miss?

It is certainly nice to see British Museum artefacts doing the rounds. (The exhibition has already been in South Shields, renowned for its Roman connections.) But an exhibition of this type cannot inspire interest in those who do not already possess it.

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