The last months of 2021 have seen the opening and reopening of a number of museums and sites. In Portugal, the Núcleo Arqueológico da Rua dos Correeiros has reopened with a new immersive design. This site, located below the Millennium bcp bank headquarters in Lisbon, was excavated between 1991 and 1995, revealing traces from all periods of the occupation of the capital over some 2,500 years.
Accessible by guided tour, NARC presents both the remains of buildings and artefacts found at the site. New scenography by Atelier Brückner has been designed to draw attention to certain features including graphics projected on to ancient fish tanks set into floor, vestiges of the fishing industry that was crucial to ancient Olisipo’s economy. Another animation focuses on the earthquake of 1755, signs of which are visible in the archaeological layers at NARC.
More modern is the Courtauld Gallery in London, which has reopened after three years of closure and development work. Located in the 18th-century Somerset House, the rooms that now house the Gallery were first home to the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society, and the Society of Antiquaries. The Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibitions were held in the ‘Great Room’ on the top floor, the first purpose-built exhibition space in the UK, and the first top-lit public gallery in Europe. This room had previously been subdivided, but now its original proportions have been reinstated.
While the Courtauld is perhaps best known for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections, including Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889), it also displays works by the early 20th-century Bloomsbury Group (in a new room replicating their domestic interior designs), as well as medieval ivories, Islamic metalwork, Botticelli’s newly conserved The Trinity with Saints, and maiolica from the pharmacies of Renaissance Italy. One pharmacy jar for root preparation (c.1540-1560) has a rare image of a feline, perhaps a lynx that inhabited the mountains of central Italy or a type of domestic cat known as a soriano.
Finally, at the end of the year, a new suite of galleries devoted to the art of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire opens its doors in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Nearly 550 objects are presented across five transformed galleries, including the first Byzantine gallery in New England, which has art spanning from the 4th century to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The reception of ancient art in the 20th- and 21st-century is also explored in a gallery, where works will be shown on rotation. The first rotation is devoted to Cy Twombly (1928-2011), who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
IMAGES: © Atelier Brückner/Giovanni Emilio Galanello; Frederick Brown Fund. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.