The Norton Simon Museum
presents Where Art Meets Science: Ancient Sculpture from the Hindu-Buddhist World, a small exhibition that examines the connoisseurship and conservation involved in identifying and preserving ancient Asian sculpture. A collaboration between the Museums assistant curator, Melody Rod-ari, and its conservator, John Griswold, the exhibition features nine works primarily of Cambodian origin from the Norton Simon collections.
Before ancient objects enter a museum collection, they often travel great distances and endure periods of use, disuse, loss and rediscovery. Over the course of time, they may serve varying functions to vastly different communities of people. Their original meanings and the evidence of their intended use can become lost or obscured. Where Art Meets Science explores how the trained eye and scholarship of the art historian together with the scientific evidence gained through technical examination and analysis by conservators and conservation scientists can uncover the history of an object. Details such as the rendering of drapery pleats, hairstyles and ornaments can reveal clues to the sculptures date and place of origin, as well as later modifications. Similarly, analytical methods can help identify traces of pigments, binders and applied organic materials.
Several of the objects featured in Where Art Meets Science are normally not on view at the Museum. These works include study objects from India, Thailand, Cambodia and Afghanistan. In their fragmented condition, these works do not exemplify the rich artistic traditions of their place of production, but as objects of study they are incredibly important to our understanding of the artistic process and stylistic evolution of Hindu and Buddhist imagery in ancient Asia.
Where Art Meets Science: Ancient Sculpture from the Hindu-Buddhist World is on view in the Museums small rotating exhibitions gallery on the main level from April 22 through August 1. It is organized in conjunction with Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia, on view February 22 through August 14 at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center.