The Korea Herald


National Museum of Korea shows legacy of ancient Greek, Roman civilizations

By Park Yuna

Published : June 18, 2023 - 09:54

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Portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius from the Roman era (NMK) Portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius from the Roman era (NMK)

The National Museum of Korea has opened its fourth thematic exhibition featuring elements of international cultural heritage, unveiling gems from ancient Greece and Rome. The 126 antiquities pieces on display are from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

The exhibition, “Separate But Inseparable: Mythology and Culture of Ancient Greece and Rome,” opened Thursday and runs through May 30, 2027. The collection includes a Roman portrait of Gaius Julius Caesar estimated to be from between the 100 BCE to 100 CE, and a Roman bronze sculpture of Zeus from between the first and second century.

The museum has another long-term exhibition showing the world's cultural heritage, “Mesopotamia: Great Cultural Innovations, Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” which will run through Jan. 28, 2024, after opening on July 22, 2022.

Roman-era bronze Zeus sculpture (NMK) Roman-era bronze Zeus sculpture (NMK)

The exhibition of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the two civilizations together, according to the museum.

The exhibition explores the legacy of the two civilizations in three sections -- “World of Mythology,” “The Human Sphere” and “The Empire of Shadows.” The exhibition starts in the first section, which displays 55 works of Greek pottery vessels and terracotta lamps decorated with images of the gods, along with large marble sculptures and small bronze statuettes from the Roman Era.

The second part of the exhibition is dedicated to portrait sculptures, and the last part looks into how the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations cherished the afterlife. People from both civilizations considered death not as an end to life, but as a transition to a different existence.

Roman-era marble Venus (NMK) Roman-era marble Venus (NMK)

The exhibition also features a video, “My Picks,” where eight acclaimed Korean leaders in different fields -- including a music critic, a physicist, a fashion designer, a priest and an actor -- share their personal perspectives and interpretations of one selected work from the exhibition to help the audience better understand the two civilizations.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is known to house a world-renowned collection of Greek and Roman antiquities and artifacts.