Anthropomorphic stele; near al-Ula, Mada'in Saleh, Tayma, Saudi Arabia, 4th millennium BCE. National Museum, Riyadh.
Anthropomorphic stele; El-Maakir, Qaryat al-Kaafa, near Ha'il, Saudi Arabia, 4th millennium BCE. National Museum, Riyadh.
Inscribed plaque adorned with ibex Qaryat al-Faw; Temple of Wadd, Saudi Arabia, ca. 1st century B.C.E or 1st century CE. Department of Archaeology Museum, King Saud University, Riyadh.
Fragment of a wall painting with a man's head Qaryat al-Faw; Saudi Arabia, 1st to 2nd century CE. National Museum, Riyadh.
Funerary mask Thaj; Tell al-Zayer, Saudi Arabia, 1st century CE. National Museum, Riyadh.
Qasr Al-Fareed; Mada'in Saleh. Saudi Arabia Mohammed Babelli.
Tomb FaÇade; Mada'in Saleh. Saudi Arabia Mohammed Babelli.
Arts and culture lovers rejoice: The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, one of the Smithsonian’s two museums of Asian art, is observing its quarter-century anniversary with a host of events and exhibits.
One early exhibit is “Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” and it’s on view now through February 24, 2013. You’ll see more than 300 objects that date from prehistoric times to “the birth of Saudi Arabia” in 1932, the gallery reports. Items include funerary masks, bronze statuettes of Roman gods, precious stones, and silver jewelry. Most items have only been excavated within the past 40 years—some as recently as the last two years from sites throughout the Arabian Peninsula—and have never been seen in North America.
Anniversary events kick off in full force from November 28 through December 1. One standout is a digital presentation, “Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang,” on view for a limited time in early December. This exhibition “recreates one of the famous Buddhist cave temples of Dunhuang, China,” via colorful murals, animations, and video, and it gives the illusion of being inside a 3-D cave, according to the gallery.
Take a moment to learn from a lecture, “Making History: Contemporary Art and the Middle East,” on November 28 at 7 PM, and stop by the official birthday celebration on December 1, with cake cutting at 1 PM and sweet treats prepared by Georgetown Cupcake. Then drop by the Asian Art and Culture Book Fair from 1 to 5 PM and meet bestselling authors, including Azar Nafisi, who penned Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW, 202-633-4880