Library Exhibition on "Restoring the Minoans: Elizabeth Price and Sir Arthur Evans"

By Gabriel McKee

In celebration of ISAW’s latest exhibit “Restoring the Minoans: Elizabeth Price and Sir Arthur Evans,” the ISAW Library is proud to announce a miniature exhibition of books relating to the exhibit. Curated by Gabriel Mckee and Rachel Herschman and located on the second floor of ISAW, this library exhibition shows publications related to Arthur Evans and other excavations and restorations of Bronze Age antiquities from the Aegean.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Evans’s six-volume work The Palace of Minos : a comparative account of the successive stages of the early Cretan civilization as illustrated by the discoveries at Knossos. This richly illustrated, 3,000-page work, published between 1921 and 1935, documents nearly four decades of excavations at Knossos. Throughout these volumes, Evans presents his interpretation of the Bronze Age culture of Crete, including the restorations and "reconstitutions" of buildings, frescoes, and sculptures from the site. The library exhibition shows illustrations from each of the six volumes, including art reconstructions and architectural drawings by the artists Evans hired to work at Knossos, including Émile Gilliéron père and fils, Piet de Jong, and Halvor Bagge. The blend of ancient and modern styles on display in these illustrations is explored in depth by the exhibition in the main gallery and Elizabeth Price's video installation "A Restoration." 

Alongside materials on Knossos, we are showing material related to Heinrich Schliemann's excavations at Tiryns in the late 19th century. Schliemann hired Émile Gilliéron père to work on this excavation, and the work there was an inspiration to Evans as he undertook his work at Knossos several decades later. Lastly, we are showing catalogs of reproductions of Mycenaean and Minoan artifacts produced and sold by the Gilliérons. These replicas, which were produced using a recently-developed electroplating technique, were acquired by museums worldwide; two of the replicas themselves are on display in the exhibition on the first floor. 

The ISAW Library's set of Evans's Palace of Minos comes from two sources: the first volume of the set originates in the library of Paul Åström, and the remainder of the volumes came to us from the library of Cornelius and Emily Vermeule, as does the 1885 French edition of Schliemann's work on Tiryns. One of the two catalogs of the Gilliérons' facsimiles is on loan to us from the Conservation Center Library at the Institute of Fine Arts.

The ISAW Library is excited to provide this bibliographical supplement to "Restoring the Minoans." If you are visiting the ISAW Library, please take a moment to visit this exhibit on the second floor.  

We are grateful to all those who have helped to make this display possible, especially Dan Biddle of the IFA Conservation Center Library, Amy Lucker of the Stephen A. Chan Library at the IFA, the entire ISAW Exhibition Department, and ISAW Library Clerks Emma Sarconi and Yesenia Brambila.