WASHINGTON (Feb. 14, 2005)–An exhibition showcasing the most important aspects of Peruvian culture over 30 centuries will be held at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall from Feb. 25 to May 30. This will be the only U.S. venue of the exhibit, which features more than 150 artifacts of enormous historical and artistic value, some traveling outside Peru for the first time. The artifacts include millennia-old pottery vessels, intricate sculptures, ornate furniture, exquisite gold and silver pieces, and striking religious paintings.
Peru’s first lady, Eliane Karp de Toledo, will attend the opening of “Peru: Indigenous and Viceregal,” which has been organized and produced by the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX), the National Institute of Culture of Peru (INC) and the National Geographic Society. It is sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Ministry of Culture, and by the Embassies of Spain and Peru in the United States.
“This impressive exhibition shows 3,000 years of the history of Peru, from the matchless art and culture of the indigenous peoples to the surprising manifestations of the blended culture in the Viceregal period. I believe that everyone who sees this exhibit will feel admiration for each one of the creators and the impulse to travel to Peru to bond directly with a country that continues preserving a superb art and culture,” the first lady said.
Thirty-two institutions, including the Archbishopric of Cuzco, the Museo Larco de Lima, and the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru, have lent items for the exhibition. Among the many highlights are gold, owl-shaped beads, created by the Mochica culture (200 B.C-A.D. 650); a Mochica funerary mask; a seven-foot-tall, 18th-century woodcarving, “Archer of Death,” and an 18th-century oil painting of the infant Jesus in imperial Inca dress. The artifacts allow visitors to examine the integration of various artistic periods, technical and aesthetic innovations and specific regional features that place Peruvian art among the most original in Latin America.
“This exhibition, in which major aesthetic trends and past events converge, attempts to provide a better understanding of the history of a great Latin American country without which we Spaniards would not be able to understand ourselves. The exhibit is, therefore, a stimulus for us to continue forging collaborations between our two countries,” said Carmen Cerdeira, president of SEACEX.
“Peru: Indigenous and Viceregal” traces the artistic evolution of the region that comprises modern-day Peru. It focuses broadly on two eras — the great indigenous or pre-Hispanic cultures and the time of the Spanish viceroyalty. The indigenous section covers the Chavin Period
(1500 B.C.-500 B.C.), representing the Chavín, Cupisnique and Virú-Gallinazo cultures; the Classical Arts (500 B.C.-A.D. 500), highlighting the era when the distinctive nature of Peruvian art developed and including the Mochica, Nasca, Paracas, Tiawanaku and Vicús cultures; the Legendary Ages (500-1450), showcasing advances in ceramics, metalwork and textiles, especially by the Wari, Chimú, Chancay and Lambayeque cultures; and the Inca Period (1450-1533), which was the culmination of pre-Hispanic aesthetics and the meeting point with Spain.
The second section, Viceregal (1533-1821), encompasses the cultural developments that occurred during the period when Peru was ruled by a viceroy, or governor, appointed by the King of Spain. This section focuses on the religious and administrative changes brought by the Spaniards and the blending of new ideas with established local cultures and arts.
“We’re delighted to host this exciting exhibition of Peruvian treasures,” said Susan Norton, director of the National Geographic Museum. “It builds on our long and valued relationship with Peru, dating from National Geographic’s support and coverage of Hiram Bingham’s excavation of Machu Picchu in 1911. The magnificent artifacts in this exhibit allow museum visitors to appreciate the incredible richness, diversity and intricate artistry of Peru’s cultural heritage.”
The National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For information on the exhibit, the public should call (202) 857-7588.