Ancient Art Collection

Spanning over 4,000 years, from the 4th millennium B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E., the ancient art collection at the Nelson-Atkins is of the highest quality, brilliantly representing the great civilization of the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

The Egyptian galleries boast stone portraits of famous kings and queens from Sesostris III to Ramses II, from Nefertiti to the Ptolemies. Sculptures from the tombs of their wealthy courtiers and governors line the Museum’s walls. The collection is particularly rich in art from the third millennium B.C.E., but other periods are well represented.

The Near Eastern collection is a royal one with jewelry obtained from the cemetery of kings and queens at Ur and sculptures from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud and the ceremonial center of the Persian Empire, Persepolis.

A few very choice sculptures and vases principally from the fifth to first centuries B.C.E. comprise the Greek collection. Powerful marble images of the great gods such as Demeter and Helios stand near charming bronze statuettes of a satyr and young athlete. A magnificent marble head of a young boy appears next to a fabulous painted terra-cotta of the god Apollo.

The Museum’s Roman art is strong in sculpture from the greatest period of the Empire, the second century C.E., and the following century of turmoil. Private portraits vie in quality with the finest portraits of such emperors as Hadrian and Alexander Severus

A small but remarkable ensemble of art from the Early Christian period in Egypt and Syria completes the collection.