From antiquity to the Renaissance, exhibit soars

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On the fourth floor of Klapper Hall at Queens College, it is easy to immerse yourself in art—ancient to renaissance—thanks to the Godwin-Ternbach Museum reopening its doors to the public with a journey of defining art works that seek to capture particular moments when ancient cultures were at their peak.

“Director’s Choice: Highlights of The Godwin-Ternbach Collection,” is an exhibition and invitation to a new era for the museum that has been closed to the public since 1994. With this new initiative undertaken by the founders and well-wishers it bodes well for a resurgence of beauty at the college.

Amy Winter, the director of the museum, said its “aim is to educate as well as reach out to the Queens and metropolitan New York communities.” The communities she speaks of are as relevant as the pieces on display. The pieces depict a wide cross-section of worlds that have played significant roles in the development of mankind. An observer can travel from ancient Egypt to Iran, to Iraq and across the Americas in the same breath, absorbing evidence of lifestyles that are distant yet relevant.

“We want people to appreciate the aesthetic and significance of history and craftsmanship involved in the works,” explained the newly appointed director. The two-tiered museum has in its glass casings periodic pieces of Asia, Greece, and Rome, Italy, Mesopotamia, and the Medieval and Renaissance period. The items range from textiles, paintings, and crafts to porcelain.

The attraction has definitely spread to students who mulled around the museum recently. A group of South Korean students from the English Language Institute took time out to appreciate the wonderful information waiting to be absorbed.

“I came here because I heard about it from a friend,” said John Park. “It’s a great thing to have something like this.” His colleagues from the English Language Institute shared similar sentiments as they huddled around just about any interesting piece that demanded their attention.

“This is enlightening,” said Chi Hyun. “It’s not every day you see something like this,” referring to the Canopic jar container for viscera, dated to about 2060-1786 BC. Pitchers, daggers, swords, and other assorted artifacts conjure the spirits of history and artistic preservation.

The museum, which was chartered in 1981, is showing the 1957 collection through the efforts of its founders, Professor Frances Godwin and famed conservator Joseph Ternbach. However, notable additions were made throughout the years. These include a large group of ancient Mexican and South American objects, among them a Zapotec funerary urn from Monte Alban dating between 500 and 1200 A.D. and a Peruvian mummy bundle mask, dating between 1200 and 1400 A.D. Peru figures prominently in the exhibit, with textiles from their earlier cultures.

The exhibition will run from through June 1, and is open to the public Monday-Thursday, 11am - 7pm. Admission is free.

Updated 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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