MFA Nubia exhibit creatively presents past history and culture


This artifact is from the Nubia Exhibit at the MFA. It is an ancient necklace that was displayed among other intricate jewelry.


The vibrant collar cast gold flecked reflections against the glass cases; a regal collar fit for a majestic queen. A ruler’s existence that is all but forgotten except for the golden collar that was left behind in the dust.

The lights were dimly lit in the new Ancient Nubia exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The curator of the exhibit, Denise Doxey, revealed that her fascination of Ancient Egypt started because of a sixth grade social studies project. Her parents thought that she would eventually outgrow her interest in Ancient Egypt but that never came to be. Descriptions of the sites in Nubia eventually drew Doxey in thus leading to their excavation.

As I walked through the dark rooms and looked at each of the pieces, I couldn’t help but think that they were created by someone years ago. There is a whole story behind each piece of artwork. The stories of the people who made the piece of art, the people who used or wore the pieces or art. The people are connected to what they make and their stories are the artwork’s story. Their life is put shown through what they make. The art that I saw at the exhibit was beautifully crafted. Each piece had its own unique aspect to it such as a special design or exotic color. I could tell that the Nubian jewelry and pottery that was on display had a story behind their intricate designs. The story of queens and kings. Of craftsmen and children. The story of Nubian history. We will never truly know what those stories are but that is the beautiful thing about art, it is always open to interpretation.

The exhibit consisted of pitch black rooms with the exception of a few lights along the walls surrounding the pieces of art. There was a variety of art works such as jewelry, pottery, statues, and other ancient artifacts that were utilized years ago. What caught my eye was the artistry that each piece of pottery and jewelry displayed.

The story behind each piece of art can be hypothesized, but in a museum everyone who sees the art can interpret it in their own way. They each served a purpose in the past, and now in the present exhibit, they allow hundreds of stories to be predicted surrounding each piece of pottery and jewelry by anyone who visits them. The people who created the art works and the people who made use of them have left parts of their stories with the art.

One piece of pottery that was on display was small and in the shape of a cup. The cup had a neck that dipped in and then flared out at the top. Thin stars were crowded at the base and fish scale patterns speckled the neck. I liked the simplicity and elegance that the piece had. The shapes and patterns complemented each other perfectly. The designs were inspired by plants and animals.

However, not all of the pieces of pottery were animal and plant themed. Some were painted with abstract designs and others were stamped, leaving aesthetic grooves in the clay. The stories that each pot told about their origins are endless. Each pot has a certain plant or animal on them that must have had some kind of significance. It is the patrons’ imagination that brings an ancient piece of artwork to life. How I interpret a piece of art may very well be different than how another person views it, thus leading to many different ideas about the art piece being made up. I imagined why the pots were made and what they were used for. I could see the pots being used for water, to hold jewelry or to be used purely for decoration. The size of the little pots restricted the options of what I thought they could have been used for. However, the pots’ purpose could have been greater than what I imagined.

Seeing jewelry from the past of other cultures let me contrast it to modern-day designs and opened up a curiosity that was difficult to shake off. Many of the pieces of jewelry were vibrant colors of gold, orange and turquoise. The striking colors were connected by fine beads that were woven together. Some other pieces looked like tiny balls of turquoise crystals that were threaded together making a necklace. The turquoise crystals were significant to the people of Kerma where the necklace was found. Kerma was an ancient kingdom that was located in Ancient Nubia which is currently Sudan. The crystals were believed to be protective amulets. It is not known exactly how these pieces of jewelry were worn but my imagination ran free once again.

The pieces of artifacts that were excavated in Ancient Nubia were brought to a museum in a different country to be seen by people who don’t know anything about their background, history or the people who made them. Each artifact shows and represents a different part of Ancient Nubia’s culture. The Ancient Nubia exhibit allowed me to explore and experience beautiful artifacts that will preserve a culture that is long gone for years to come.