The Daily Beast recently posted an interesting article about The Metropolitan Museum of Art's new exposition entitled 'Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World' which brings together more than 265 exquisite objects that were created through the patronage of the royal courts of the Hellenistic kingdoms, with an emphasis on the ancient city of Pergamon. The emphasis of the article, however? 'How Alexander the Great changed the art world forever'.

When Alexander conquered Persia, six thousand tons of gold were taken from the treasuries of Persepolis and Susa alone. Those fabulous riches combined with Greek skill meant a dawning of a new era in terms of cultural supremacy. While his empire was split into a number of kingdoms (the Ptolemaic perhaps being the most famous due to its library and Cleopatra), the art and architecture originating in Hellenic city-states exploded.
The exhibition notes that the wealth also changed Hellenic culture. Tossed out were the strictures and disapproval from city-states like Athens and Sparta against ostentations displays of private wealth. The result was a period of art that changed cultures across the ancient world. That influence is perhaps most palpable in ancient Rome, where the craze for copies of famous Hellenic works are often all we have left of Hellenic art.

The core of the exhibition—one-third of the statues on view—is comprised of works from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, many of which have never been to the U.S. before. The Pergamon was excavated in the late 19th century by German archaeologists who brought many of its treasures back to Germany. The Pergamon Museum is now undergoing a renovation, presenting a ripe opportunity for the Met.

One of those pieces here for the first time, which could perhaps be considered one of the exhibition’s centerpieces is the Athena from the Pergamon Altar. Weighing more than three tons, it was shipped in three pieces, Picón said. Even with its magnitude, the most stupefying thing about the towering work is that it is just one-third the size of the original carved by Phidias that stood in the Parthenon.
The Athena is surrounded by other monumental works, including the captivating Fragmentary colossal head of a youth from the 2nd century BC. There is also the impressive marble head and arm of Zeus from Aigeira from circa 150 BC on loan from the National Archaeology Museum of Greece.

Against another wall can be found the earliest known text of Homer’s The Odyssey from 285-250 BC, preserved because the papyrus it was on was reused for a mummy and buried in hot sand.

Each room in the exhibition has one signature piece. In one it is the Athena, in another the model replica of the Altar of Pergamon. In the final chamber, which focuses on Hellenistic art in the Roman period, stands the Borghese Krater. Standing nearly two meters high, the vase was made in Athens in the 1st century BC, shipped to Rome and discovered in the 16th century in a Roman garden. Purchased by Napoleon from the Borghese family in 1808, it has only left the Louvre twice.

The exhibition will run from April 18 to July 17, 2016, at The Met.