Exhibition A Menagerie of Wonders.  The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
plus Oct, 08 2015Jan, 10 2016

On 9 October 2015 the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center, will unveil A Menagerie of Wonders. The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini at the exhibition centre on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The only Italian stage of a travelling exhibition that has taken the mosaic to some major world museums has been made possible thanks to the support of Patricia and Phillip Frost. The mosaic will be on view until 10 January 2016.

A Menagerie of Wonders is an exhibition that provides a unique opportunity for the Italian public to admire an ancient Rome mosaic of superb iconographic quality and in an excellent state of conservation. The mosaic was uncovered in 1996 in the Israeli town of Lod, which according to an ancient legend was the birthplace of Saint George. Dating from the 3rd century AD, the mosaic is also particularly interesting because it is so well preserved. One of the finest and largest mosaic floors ever found in Israel, this archaeological gem consists of panels with detailed images of mammals, birds, fish, various plants and ancient ships. The mosaic is made of cubic stone tesserae of various colours: blue, red, yellow, brown, white, several shades of grey, and black.

Immediately after the discovery, the mosaic was reburied to protected it from the elements which threatened its state of conservation. It was then uncovered again in 2009 and displayed to the public, but only for one weekend; over 30,000 visitors seized the opportunity to admire the mosaic. Funded by the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White, president of the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority, work began the same year to create a permanent home for the mosaic – the Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center – due to open in 2017.

In 2010 the Lod mosaic set off on an international tour and was displayed in some major world museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Louvre, Paris, the Altes Museum, Berlin, Waddesdon Manor in the heart of Buckinghamshire (United Kingdom), and the Hermitage, St Petersburg. Before the mosaic’s definitive return to Israel, from 9 October 2015 to 10 January 2016 the Lod mosaic will be on show at the Fondazione Cini in Venice. This unique, not-to-be-missed exhibition is the only Italian stage on the tour, which will end in the United States at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in the Florida International University, Miami (from 11 February to 15 March 2016).

On the occasion of the exhibition, the Fondazione Cini Institute of Art History has broadened reflections on the theme by conceiving and producing a photographic exhibition and two videos with the expert advice of Elisabetta Concina. Selected from the Fondazione Cini’s vast Photo Library, the images refer to floor mosaics in some of the most important archaeological sites in Italy: Aquileia, Rome, Palestrina and Pompeii. The first video, on the other hand, produced in collaboration with the Archaeological Departments of the Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Emilia Romagna is a fascinating journey in images documenting the extraordinary wealth of the Italian archaeological heritage, with a specific focus on the northern Adriatic area; this is also meant to suggest a travel itinerary to encourage visitors to explore further the themes of the exhibition. The second video furnishes a wider-ranging survey, extending the area of comparison with the Lod mosaic to the Mediterranean basin in an attempt to identify stylistic models, thematic affinities and iconographic similarities but also compositional differences and technical divergences.



Guided tours or educational workshops

From 17 October, for the duration of exhibition visitors can not only admire the mosaic close-up and gain insight into the mosaic and its techniques, they will also be able to take part in guided tours or educational workshops organised by Artsystem (booking required for both).

In an area of the exhibition reserved for educational activities, a special space will be dedicated to the craft of making mosaics, thanks to the collaboration of the Venetian firm Orsoni Mosaici srl – Gruppo Trend Spa – and the mosaic restorer Alessandra Costa. In a hands-on approach to the craft tools and the stone and glass tesserae, visitors will be able to understand the features that determine their various decorative uses.

Primary schoolchildren and students from middle schools will be able to try their hand – with various levels of difficulty – at this art with such a rich ancient history and great decorative and expressive potential. As in the past, the real and fantastic animals of the Menagerie of Wonders will intrigue and be a source of great enjoyment. During the guided tours various themes will be explored, such as the possible interpretations of the figures depicted in the mosaic, the history of the city of Lod, where the site was discovered, the delicate, tricky operation of removing the mosaic, and its long travels and return to Israel.

Visitors who wish to take part in the guided tours and workshops are required to book by calling the secretary’s office (toll-free 800 662 477 – Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 am to 1 pm) or by emailing artsystem@artsystem.it.

Series of lectures on mosaic and marble floors from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

The exhibition A Menagerie of Wonders. The Ancient Roman Lod Mosaic at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini (until 10 January 2016) gives the opportunity to take a deeper look on the fascinating theme of mosaic, both with opus tesselatum and opus sectile techniques. The series is curated by Giordana Trovabene.

Thursday 5 November 2015 | 5pm

Il mosaico di Lod. Considerazioni sui tessellati di età romana in ambito domestico: domus, villae suburbanae et maritimae

Giordana Trovabene
Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia e Association Internationale Etude Mosaïque Antique

Thursday 12 November 2015 | 5pm

I mosaici pavimentali delle basiliche paleocristiane (secoli IV-VI)

Giordana Trovabene
Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia e Association Internationale Etude Mosaïque Antique

Thursday 19 November 2015 | 5pm

I mosaici del Veneto e il progetto di catalogazione dei rivestimenti pavimentali antichi

Federica Rinaldi
Soprintendenza Speciale per il Colosseo, il Museo Nazionale Romano e l’Area Archeologica di Roma

Francesca Veronese
Padova, Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Museo Archeologico

Thursday 3 December 2015 | 5pm

I “sectilia pavimenta”: da Costantinopoli a Venezia

Simonetta Minguzzi
Università degli Studi di Udine

Thursday 10 December 2015 | 5pm

I pavimenti musivi delle sinagoghe in Israele fra il IV e il VI secolo

Elisabetta Concina
Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia

Thursday 17 December 2015 | 5pm

I pavimenti musivi dell’occidente romanico tra XI e XIII secolo in Italia e in Francia

Giordana Trovabene
Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia e Association Internationale Etude Mosaïque Antique