January 27, 2015
The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority are delighted to tell you that "Unfading Colors: a Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel" is now on display in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. An opening reception for hundreds of guests in the newly restored General Staff Building included a ribbon cutting ceremony by Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, and Shelby White, Chairman of the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and was followed by the viewing of the elegant and highly informative exhibition. This is the first time that archaeological material from Israel has been exhibited in Russia, and media coverage of the exhibition fueled by the marketing efforts of the Hermitage Museum has been outstanding. The exhibition in the Hermitage Museum is made possible by the Hermitage Museum and by special gifts to the Friends from the Len Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies, the David Berg Foundation and Hicham Aboutaam and Phoenix Ancient Art.
The Lod Mosaic in the State Hermitage Museum
The exhibition in the General Staff Building focuses on the mosaic from Lod and in addition, provides both textual and visual information about mosaics in the Hermitage Museum and in other museums in Saint Petersburg.
According to Yana Radolitskaya, a curator in the Department of Antiquities of the Hermitage under the directorship of Dr. Anna Trofimova, "Our exhibition of the mosaic from Lod in St. Petersburg is a very important event for our city in which ancient art has always been of much importance. Historical cityscape was emerging in the 2nd half of the 18th - 19th centuries under the influence of classical traditions. Collecting ancient monuments was very popular then, and they were used to decorate and complete the grandeur of numerous imperial palaces and mansions of the Russian nobility of St. Petersburg. As a result, a very rich antique heritage has concentrated in our city (and presently in the State Hermitage), including works of different arts of various historical periods, and many of these works are deservedly considered masterpieces of the world art. But, unfortunately, it is the ancient art of mosaic which is not so well represented in St. Petersburg. The works of it are few: several fine floor mosaics in the Hermitage, two Roman mosaics in Tsarskoye Selo and one in Peterhof. (Our multimedia project "The Roman Floor Mosaic in St. Petersburg," which is presented at our exhibition, elaborates on this topic.) These mosaics include the ones with geometric designs, as well as with silhouette or figurative images. But none of the mosaics located in St. Petersburg can compare to this exhibit in either beauty, skill of execution or the state of preservation."
The Lod Mosaic exhibition takes place in a brand new museum complex of the Hermitage in a hall that is free from any other exhibits. The size of the hall ideally suits a mosaic of this size, and the balcony provides a wonderful opportunity to admire the mosaic ensemble in its entirety. Also, the brick-red color of the walls was chosen deliberately to evoke the mural paintings in the villas of Pompeii, and the lighting was designed to complete this illusion. The Hermitage produced a special movie about the Lod Mosaic as well as a touchscreen multimedia program that are complemented by a special publication about the art of ancient Roman mosaics.
This historic exhibition of the Lod Mosaic ancient masterpiece in the State Hermitage Museum during its 250th Anniversary is a cause for excitement and great pride, providing us with a wonderful opportunity to share the treasures and the archaeological heritage of the Land of Israel with the large number of visitors to the Hermitage and to foster cultural relations between Israel and Russia.
Our exhibition of the Lod Mosaic in the Hermitage Museum joins other special current loans from the IAA including "Assyria to Iberia" and "Ennion: Master of Roman Glass" exhibitions both at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as our exhibition about the Chalcolithic culture at the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, all fulfilling the Israel Antiquities Authority role as the leading ambassador of Israel's cultural heritage material.
We thank you again for your continued generous support of the important archaeological work conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority.