“Poseidon” exhibit to open at Hood Museum

by Owen Shepcaro | 1/14/15 6:10pm

Poseidon: shaker of the earth, bringer of storms, tamer of horses, ruler of the seas. Beginning on Jan. 17, the Dartmouth community will be able to explore the spiritual and secular majesty of the Greek god Poseidon at the Hood Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition “Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily Life.”

The exhibit, which contains more than 100 pieces of various art forms — ranging from large marble statues to small pieces of pottery — was curated by Seth Pevnick ’99, the acting director, chief curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Tampa Museum of Art. Pevnick, who was a Hood Museum intern during his time at the College, said that he had thought of the idea for an exhibition revolving around Poseidon even before he began working at the Tampa Museum of Art.

He said he was inspired by a statue of Poseidon in the Tampa museum, which he described as the “biggest and best-preserved” in the United States.

“I hadn’t heard of any big shows that had been done focusing on Poseidon and the sea, so I decided that it would be a great show to do in an area that is on the sea like Tampa,” Pevnick said. “And they hired me and asked me to do the show.”

The works in the exhibition, which first opened in Omaha, Nebraska, last winter, evoke three different themes — the myth, the cult and the impact that Poseidon had on daily life, Pevnick said. The themes of myth and cult will illustrate Poseidon’s role in the religion and tradition of ancient Greece, while the theme of daily life will show the role the sea played in the secular happenings of Greece, he said. He said that one of the goals of the exhibit is to make aspects of the religion surrounding Poseidon more accessible.

“[The myth and cult] are composed of a collection of stories about Gods that most people don’t believe in anymore, so that all seems very, very different and hard to relate to,” Pevnick said. “But when you get to the last section of the show about daily life, it’s seafood and seafaring and that’s something that people see all of the time and can easily understand.”

Classical studies professor and archaeologist Julie Hruby said that art and archaeological details are important in understanding civilizations of the past.

“Art, as a subset of archaeology, is vitally important in understanding civilizations of the past,” Hruby said. “However, art definitely has holes and without the context of other archaeological findings it can be hard to understand. But if you can excavate other artifacts and find context in them, you can answer just about any question there is to ask.”

Along with the exhibition, the College will host lectures about ancient Greek archaeology. The lectures will begin on Friday, with a talk given by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research specialist Brendan Foley about the Antikythera Shipwreck, an archeological site that has been a major source of ancient Greek artifacts including statues and jewelry. The Hood will also host a symposium about the exhibit on Jan. 30 and 31, which will be highlighted by a keynote speech by Pevnick.

Hood Museum senior curator and the symposium’s organizer Katherine Hart said that the event was designed largely based on input from professors in the classics department.

“We brought these potential speakers into the classics department, and they chose the speakers that they were most interested in having their students hear and that they were most fascinated by,” she said.

“Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily Life” will run from Jan. 17 through March 15 in the

second floor galleries of the Hood.