Over the years, Tampa Bay area art enthusiasts have had their share of stellar exhibitions, depending of course on one's definition of "stellar." Nevertheless, the installation of Tampa Museum of Art's Magna Graecia in January, 2003, raised the bar substantially for work of national and international stature. Word has it that the Metropolitan Museum of Art thought the show should have debuted with them. With great and befitting fanfare, Magna Graecia, which means "Great Greece" in Latin, treated viewers to 81 first millennium objects never before seen outside of Greece. Aside from traveling to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the exhibition will not be viewed in any other venue. These objects owe their existence to a "cultural big bang" resulting from ancient seafaring Greeks infiltrating Southern Italy and Sicily. Viewers ogled gold jewelry, figurines, altars, tomb paintings and bronze mirrors, but the star of the show was "Youth of Agrigento" (480 B.C.), called "the finest example of its type found outside mainland Greece and one of the most important classical sculptures known." Agrigento is Tampa's sister city. Mounting the show was the result of phenomenal collaborative effort, and now that we've seen it, we're spoiled for more chart-topping exhibitions of this caliber. Congratulations to all Tampa Museum of Art personnel and local city officials who made such a glorious event possible.
Tampa Museum of Art, 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, 813-274-8130.