The Ancient Art collection features objects from a wide geographic area spanning the Mediterranean basin to Central Asia, with the ancient cultures of Greece, Italy, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt prominently represented. Although the objects in the collection are thousands of years old, they represent a variety of functions that are still relevant today and include drinking vessels, jewelry and perfume containers, religious dedications, and funerary monuments.
Lisa Çakmak is the associate curator of ancient art. She joined the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2010 as the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for ancient art and previously was the Niarchos Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Çakmak has an undergraduate degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University, a master of arts and doctorate in classical art and archaeology from the University of Michigan, and a master of business administration from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
As part of the Art Museum’s historic expansion, Lisa installed galleries that highlight the art and architecture of the Roman Empire and showcase the museum’s collection of Near Eastern, Greek and Etruscan art. Çakmak is currently working on the reinstallation of the museum’s Egyptian collection, a project she has led through years of research and planning, including the 2014 CT-scanning of three mummies.
Expanded, Reimagined Ancient Egyptian Art Galleries
The technological and cultural sophistication of ancient Egypt produced art and architecture that has inspired wonder for nearly 5,000 years. To expand and advance our visitor’s experiences, the Museum has relocated our ancient Egyptian art to a new and larger gallery space.
Lisa Çakmak, the associate curator of ancient art, led the reinstallation project through years of research and planning. More than 100 works of art on display explore death and the afterlife, Egyptian religion, the human figure in art, and more. Visitors will find new digital interactive experiences to engage more deeply with the arts and culture of ancient Egypt. A high-resolution touchscreen featuring detailed photos of ancient coins is available in nearby Gallery 320. Featured in Gallery 313 are a digital timeline with maps and stories about specific works that convey the evolution of Egyptian art from its earliest stages into later periods as well as an interactive display of computerized-tomography (CT) scans of three mummies. Using touch gestures, visitors can explore three-dimensional models of these mummies layer-by-layer to reveal details about age, physical features, and the mummification process.
Curators and radiologists examine the mummy of Pet-Menekh at Washington University Medical Center. From left are Lisa Çakmak, PhD, assistant curator of ancient art at Saint Louis Art Museum; Karen K. Butler, PhD, associate curator of Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Sanjeev Bhalla, MD, professor of radiology and chief of cardiothoracic imaging at the School of Medicine; and Vincent Mellnick, MD, a Washington University radiologist. Pet-Menekh was scanned in a computerized tomography (CT) scanner at the medical center. (Credit: Robert Boston)
Our Ancient Egyptian art collection is now on view in Galleries 313 and 320, Main Building.
Digital interactives in the Egyptian galleries are supported by a generous grant from The Crawford Taylor Foundation. Computed tomography (CT) scans of the mummies are courtesy of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine.