National Gallery of Australia opens major exhibition: “Incas: Lost worlds of Peru”

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Moche culture. North coast 100–800 AD. Bead in the form of an owl’s head. Gold and turquoise; 3.7 x 3.3 cm. Ministerio de Cultura del Perú: Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán, Lambayeque. Photo: Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán.

ANBERRA.- The National Gallery of Australia today opened the major summer exhibition Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru. The exhibition opened to the public on 6 December 2013 and closes on 21 April 2014. It will be on display in Canberra only.

Gold and the Incas reveals the splendour, drama and beauty of ancient Peru and the famous empire of the Incas. This remarkable exhibition features more than 200 works of art including spectacular gold pieces, scintillating jewellery, textiles and sculptures created thousands of years ago to decorate nobility in life and in death.

Gold and the Incas is the only comprehensive exhibition of Peruvian art ever staged in Australia. ‘Ten private and public museums in Peru have generously lent some of their greatest treasures to the National Gallery of Australia for this spectacular exhibition’, said Ron Radford AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia. ‘We anticipate Gold and the Incas: Lost worlds of Peru will be a major drawcard for families and we look forward to welcoming interstate and international visitors to Canberra over the summer months’, he said.

For more than 3000 years before the Spanish came to Peru, great cultures rose and fell, were conquered by others or absorbed into them. Almost every artefact that survives was buried with their owners, to be re-discovered in modern times. In the last 100 years there have been extraordinary archaeological finds, and much scientific research is occurring today.

Deputy Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA said, ‘The ACT Government is once again very pleased to be supporting the National Gallery of Australia in staging a major international summer exhibition. The past two summer blockbusters, Renaissance and Toulouse-Lautrec, have resulted in an overall economic impact to the ACT of more than $112 million.’ ‘

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SICÁN-LAMBAYEQUE culture. North coast 750–1375 AD. Mask. Gold, chrysocolla, cinnabar; 30.6 x 49.7 cm. Museo Oro del Perú, Lima. Photo: Daniel Giannoni.

The National Gallery of Australia’s track record in bringing visitors to Canberra over the previously quieter summer months speaks for itself and we look forward to Gold and the Incas attracting families, who also visit other national attractions.’ he said. As well as being highly-skilled gold and silversmiths, sculptors, potters and weavers, the artisans of Peruvian civilisation included in their works religious and political ideas based on the importance of the natural world. Lively depictions of animals, birds and fish decorate the works of art. Technological inventions such as the knotted string quipu provide a new outlook on the sophisticated world of the Incas. ‘It is amazing how inventive these artists were’, said Christine Dixon, Senior Curator of International Painting and Sculpture at the National Gallery, and curator of the exhibition. ‘Their creative powers speak to us across the centuries: sculptors used gold, silver, wood, shell, clay and stone as their means of expression, as well as weavers who experimented with dazzling patterns and motifs. I think this is great art that most of us have never encountered before.’

The National Gallery of Australia would like to acknowledge all our valued Partners for their generous support. In particular, we thank the ACT Government through VisitCanberra for its continued financial support towards the national marketing campaigns for the Gallery’s major exhibitions and the Australian Government International Exhibitions Insurance Program, which has indemnified the exhibition. We thank our Art Education and Access Partner National Australia Bank and Principal Partner Nine Entertainment Group. We also acknowledge longstanding sponsors Yulgilbar Foundation as Family Activity Room partner, Qantas as the official airline and Qantas Freight as the official freight partner of Gold and the Incas and welcome our new Major Partner, PromPeru. We extend our gratitude to the National Gallery of Australia Council Exhibitions Fund, Novotel Canberra and Canberra Airport, who once again demonstrate their commitment to arts. The National Gallery of Australia is grateful to its committed media partners: JC Decaux, Win Television, ABC Radio and Fairfax Media’s The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The exhibition is staged to mark the 50th anniversary of Australian-Peruvian diplomatic relations, and is organised in co-operation with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

The lending institutions for Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru include, under the Ministerio de Cultura del Perú: Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú, Lima, Museo Nacional de Sicàn, Ferreñafe, Museo Arqueológico Nacional Brüning, Lambayeque, Sala de Oro del Museo Municipal Vicús, Piura, Museo de Sitio de Chan Chan, Dos Cabezas, Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán, Lambayeque. Other lending institutions include: Universidad Nacional de Trujillo Museo de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia, Trujillo, Museo Oro del Perú, Lima, Museo Larco, Lima and Cusco, Fundación Museo Amano, Lima.

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