Worcester Art Museum
This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Worcester, MA. Although I’ve lived within an hour’s drive of the city for many years, and have occasionally visited briefly for specific events, I can’t say I’ve ever gotten to know the place. I was pleased to be able to set that right. Among the things I did, a real highlight was visiting the Worcester Art Museum.
It’s known for being a very fine museum, with some truly world-class works in the collection, and I felt that reputation is very well deserved. I won’t give a play-by-play description of my walk-through (actually, I did that. I Twittered while I walked through; anybody who’s interested can take a look through my feed, and search for January 8. There are pictures too.)
For me, one of the major highlights was the set of late Roman mosaics housed in the central atrium. These were excavated in the 1930s from the ruins of a villa in Antioch, in modern Turkey. I’ve always admired the craft and intricacy of the mosaic artists of antiquity, but these pieces absolutely blew me away, both by their technical virtuosity and sheer beauty. I suspect, given the late date (500s AD), that these pieces don’t represent the pinnacle of classical Roman mosaic achievement, and there is a certain stiffness in some aspects of the composition. That actually causes me a fair amount of wonder at what that pinnacle must have been like. These images I took don’t do them a whole lot of justice, but they do convey some of the sense of the works.