The Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning a $40 million initiative to renovate its Ancient Near Eastern and Cypriot galleries, museum officials announced Tuesday. The collection contains some of the institution’s most recognizable ancient works from the eastern Mediterranean coast stretching across Iran, including a pair of imposing sculptures of lamassu – human-headed winged lions – from the 9th century. century BC.
Nader Tehrani, director of architecture firm NADAAA, designed the new space, using elements that mirror the materials of the artworks on display, such as the deep blues of lapis lazuli seen in Sumerian designs. Museum curators Kim Benzel and Seán Hemingway will oversee the project. They aim to integrate these distinct areas of the collection into an updated exhibition that demonstrates the cross-cultural links between the Near East – now commonly referred to as Western Asia – and Cyprus.
“The Met is strongly committed to updating our stories,” museum director Max Hollein said in an interview. He said new scholarships would influence the curatorial direction of the galleries, which have not been renovated since 1999.
Hollein said fundraising for the 15,000 square foot project is halfway done. Construction is due to begin later this year and museum officials expect the galleries to reopen in 2025.
The museum is undergoing several other major renovations, including modifications to the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, as well as projects in its European Paintings section and its Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries.