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Premiere Presentation Will Offer Rare Insight into the Lives of Children through Sculptures, Baby Feeders, Ancient Toys, Grave Monuments, and Other Artifacts

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past
September 14–December 5 2004, at the Getty Center

June 1, 2004

Los Angeles—A new exhibition will explore the lives of children in ancient Greece, from their roles in the family to their pets, toys, religious rituals, and education.  Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past, at the Getty Center from September 14 to December 5, 2004, is the first major exhibition devoted to the topic, and the first major antiquities show at the Getty Center in seven years. As the Getty Premiere Presentation for fall, Coming of Age is one of the most important shows of the year.

A special Coming of Age Web site will launch on in September to complement the opening of the Premiere Presentation. This is the first Getty exhibition site designed especially with kids and families in mind, filled with interactive presentations, fun quizzes, and ancient games that visitors can play online.

Ancient Greek artists were the earliest to create images of children that did not portray them as miniature adults. The objects they crafted provide a vital link to the little-known narratives of children's lives during this time period. Coming of Age gathers approximately 150 objects on loan from American, Australian, and European collections, including works from the Getty's holdings. The exhibition will chronicle the emotional and familial environment in which children were raised, their participation in religious rituals, the commemorative objects that marked their early death, and their transition to adulthood. Also on view will be images of children in mythology. Painted vases, sculptures, grave monuments, and artifacts such as toys and baby feeders bring these children's experiences to life, offering an important perspective on the history of childhood.

 "This exhibition is a rare opportunity to add to our understanding of life in ancient Greece. It is an important and engaging example of the value of interdisciplinary scholarship," said Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, "offering a link to the ancient past through rare objects that we recognize as precedents for those in our own world."

Coming of Age traces the life of the Greek child from birth to adulthood—around 15 years of age for girls, the time of marriage for females in ancient Greece, and around 17 or 18 for boys, the age at which they entered the military. The exhibition opens with striking images of individual children: A marble statue of a boy measuring over two feet high, and a large marble grave stone of a girl named Apollonia. It continues with sections on "Mythical Children," "Children at Home," "Educating Children," "Children at Play," "Slavery in Ancient Greece," "Children and Religious Ritual," "Children and Funerary Rituals," and "Transition to Adulthood."

The exhibition makes its final stop in Los Angeles after a tour of venues in New Hampshire, New York, and Cincinnati. The presentation at the Getty Center will include 35 additional works drawn from the Getty's collection and will feature a special "Family Zone," a hands-on learning area for families, where children can play with reproductions of toys seen in the exhibition, dress up in ancient Greek costumes, make rubbings of the Greek alphabet, or write on a wax tablet. Detailed replicas of musical instruments will be on view along with headphones for listening to the sounds they make, and lyres will be available to hold and strum. There will also be a quiet space for families to read selected books about classical Greek myths and life in ancient Greece.

The Getty will organize a number of related events to complement the exhibition. One of the highlights is The Swallow Song, an original theatrical production commissioned by the Getty (see details below). The exhibition is complemented by a 352-page, fully illustrated catalogue published by Yale University Press in association with the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, with specially commissioned essays by eminent scholars in the fields of Greek social history, literature, archaeology, and art history.  Issues such as gender stereotyping, changes in perceptions of childhood over time, class distinctions, slavery, and mentor relationships are all addressed. In addition, most objects in the exhibition are discussed.  

Coming of Age was organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA). Before arriving at the Getty Center, the exhibition was presented at the Hood Museum of Art in New Hampshire, the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, and the Cincinnati Art Museum. 

The Swallow Song
October 21, 22, and 23 at 8:00 p.m., and October 24 at 3:00 p.m. 
Harold M. Williams Auditorium, at the Getty Center
This original theatrical production commissioned by the Getty, is adapted, directed by, and starring Lydia Koniordou, long considered to be the finest classical Greek actress of her generation. The play is composed of dramatic scenes enacting some of the most important and painful dilemmas faced during childhood. Costume and set design are by the internationally renowned Dionysis Fotopoulos, with translation by Oliver Taplin.
Tickets ($28; students/seniors $22) available at the Museum Information Desk or by calling 310-440-7300.

A special Coming of Age exhibition site will launch on in September 2004. Designed specially for kids and families, it features a fun and interactive presentation about ancient Greek games, schooling, myth, ceremony, and family relationships.  Kids and adults can play knucklebones online, test their knowledge with quizzes, and act as art detectives to decode stories depicted on a Greek vase.

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past
By Jenifer Neils and John H. Oakley. Contributions by Katherine W. Hart, Lesley A. Beaumont, Helene Foley, Mark Golden, Jill Korbin, Jeremy Rutter, and H.A. Shapiro.
This is the first English-language study to examine the imagery and artifacts relating to childhood in ancient Greece. The 352-page book explores what was most universal and what was unique about childhood during the period and also discusses childhood's effects on Greek life and culture. Published by Yale University Press in association with the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. (Cloth: $65; paper: $40) Available in the Getty Bookstore or by calling 310-440-7059.

Note to editors:  Images available on request.

Maureen McGlynn
Getty Communications Dept.

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