The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston currently has an exhibit devoted entirely to ancient works featuring Aphrodite and Her children. “I am excited to welcome visitors to the realm of…Aphrodite and hope that her powers are still potent and present,” says Malcolm Rogers, a director of the MFA, the press release reports. This exhibit will be displayed through February 20 2012. Much of the exhibit focuses on historical facts, but there are hints that this Goddess is still active and meaningful today.
At the exhibit entrance, a stand holds paper and pen, and offers a slot, with the note, “…We invite you to submit your wishes for happiness in love and marriage. May the goddess shine good fortune upon you.” Once inside, a visitor can read, “Today, Aphrodite…appeals to modern tastes and sensibilities. Her time has come again.” One of the curators, Pheobe Segal, is quoted as saying in part that learning about Aphrodite “has enriched my ways of thinking both about art and about life. The lessons of Aphrodite are many, and I hope that you enjoy discovering them as much as I did.”
Included are some predecessors to Aphrodite: earlier “goddesses…who would ‘become’ Aphrodite…” says the sign next to a display of Goddess statues as old as 6,000 to 5,500 BC. The oldest is a tiny terracotta “‘Mother Goddess’ figurine” found in what is today Turkey.
Aphrodite, “one of the earliest Greek gods [sic],” was the Goddess of love and marriage, and “promoted unions…as well as the fertility of the earth and prosperity of the land,” reads the exhibit. She also was the Goddess of ideal beauty and was portrayed by many artists as the ultimate female form. She was worshipped by both the Greeks and the Romans (under the name Venus). Her influence was widespread.
The love/marriage aspect of Aphrodite shows in many “vessels used in a nuptial context” with scenes of Aphrodite and Her children painted on the side, the exhibit explains. The beauty aspect is shown in mirrors and perfume bottles, as well as the many nude statues of this Goddess, the ultimate female.
The exhibit includes nudity and matter-of-fact discussions of Eros, love, and fertility. Some pieces have never been shown to the public before “for fear they might offend,” text on one wall explains.
The MFA is open every day. Admission is $22 for adults; less for seniors, students, children, and members. Admission includes entrance to the exhibit. On Wednesdays after 4 pm admission is “by voluntary contribution.” The MFA is handicapped accessible. See www.mfa.org for more information.