Salem Museum to Host Ancient Near East Exhibit this Fall

SALEM, OR — From Aug. 31 to Dec. 22, 2013, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, is pleased to present “Breath of Heaven, Breath of Earth: Ancient Near Eastern Art from American Collections.” This major exhibition will feature 64 ancient artworks that date from approximately 6000 BCE to 500 BCE and encompasses the geographic regions of Mesopotamia, Syria and the Levant, Anatolia and Iran.

The exhibition will introduce visitors to the art, history, and cultures of the ancient Near East. These cultures date back to the dawn of recorded history and gave Western civilization such concepts as cities, writing, literature, schools, laws, poetry, philosophy, medicine, and the Judeo-Christian tradition.

A number of well-known objects will be on display during the exhibition, including the head of Gudea (one of the earliest examples of royal portraiture) and a male figure from Khafaje (an iconic representation of a Sumerian priest/worshiper figure) from the University of Pennsylvania. The exhibition will also feature a number of other remarkable objects that are not well known, including a foundation figure of Shulgi of Ur from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, as well as an Assyrian relief of soldiers from the Seattle Art Museum.

Museum Director John Olbrantz says, “This exhibition represents a rare opportunity to view many objects that are not normally available or accessible to audiences in the western United States. With the recent Iraq War and the current political situation in the Middle East dominating the news headlines, it is easy to forget the seminal role that these ancient cultures played in the development of Western civilization and how they influenced who we are today.”

The exhibition has been co-organized by ancient Near Eastern art expert Trudy Kawami, Director of Research at the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, and John Olbrantz, The Maribeth Collins Director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. In addition to the objects on display, the exhibition will be accompanied by a map of the ancient Near East; photo murals of key archaeological sites, including Ur, Lachish, Persepolis, and Hattuša; and a chronology.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State St. in Salem, Oregon. General admission is $3 and $2 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted for free. For more information about the Museum or the upcoming exhibition, call 503-370-6855 or visit

Salem’s Grand Hotel Offering Special Travel Package

The Grand Hotel, located just three blocks from the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and in the heart of downtown Salem, is offering a special overnight package in conjunction with the “Breath of Heaven, Breath of Earth” exhibition. The package includes two tickets to the exhibition, overnight accommodations for two in a King Deluxe Room, early check in at 1 p.m., a $50 gift card to Bentley’s Grill and Lounge, a complimentary breakfast buffet, a late checkout of 1 p.m., and 20% off the price of the exhibition book. Package rates start at $175. Call the Hotel for more information at 877-540-7800 or visit

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