The Palace of Ashurnasirpal II
Assyrian Relief Panel
The Assyrian Gallery at MoMA
The Metropolitan Museum itself is a work of art built with columns standing high above few levels of steps. Through the museum’s entrance, across the lobby, there is a grand staircase in the center that leads up to the second floor. Mentally, visitors choose to start their tour going up those stairs. The Great Hall Balcony is behind the staircase, which leads right into the Ancient Near East Gallery. Even without knowing the layout, the way the museum is designed allows visitors to easily find the gallery. Ancient Near East art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art surrounds the area from the eastern Mediterranean region to the Indus Valley and from the Central Asian plains to the southwestern Arabian peninsula. The gallery holds a collection of relief panels from the walls of the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II. King Ashurnasirpal II ruled Nimrud of Mesopotamia during the Neo-Assyrian period from 883 to 859 B.C. He was considered one of the most powerful kings during the ninth century who successfully “carried out substantial building projects.” The gallery is a large opened space with high ceilings and massive walls. It is dimly lit and a bit chilly. The light is focused on the relief panels on the walls. The huge stone carvings are made in very low relief; not much of the background was carved out by the artist. According to the label text by the panels, Gypsum Alabaster is the mineral used as material by the artist to make these walls. The panels are mainly smooth except for the parts that are cracked and damaged from time. Originally they were painted in bright colors but all of the paint has stripped off leaving only the dull color of stone. Assyrian kings were masters of political propaganda, which was expressed on the walls of their palaces. The stonewall reliefs depicted different royal activities and were inscribed with the record of the king’s important...
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