Asclepius, Return of the God. 2007 — Museums

This exhibition displays the results of the scientific studies and the restoration of the statue of the Greek god Aesculapius discovered in Empúries. 

Institutional sponsor: Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya

Location: Barcelona, Catalonia

© Photography: Ignasi Cristià SL

At the beginning of the 19th century the Noucentisme movement began to recover the Hellenic roots of our culture. On 25 October 1909, the bust of what is considered the best Greek sculpture in the western Mediterranean was found in Empúries: an image of Asclepius, god of medicine. In 2006 the Asclepius Project was born, in which a scientific team documented the sculpture and began its restoration. This exhibition aims to explain and document this archaeological process and display its results – the restored sculpture – before its return to the place where it was found.

To that effect, the hall of the Museum of Archaeology is divided into four parts: an introduction; an area of immersion; an area of discovery; and an epilogue with a more in-depth follow up. At the entrance, there is a reception area with a narrow window like a crack in the wall that lets us imagine what we will later discover. The rooms are designed in dark tones, to highlight the pieces, accompanied by light boxes and light strips that indicate the path to follow, and where images of the restoration work are shown, as though they were part of the furniture in a laboratory. At the end of this path, we find the door to the temple – a circular space, in an intense black – completely empty except for the lit up statue of the Greek god, a space for contemplation and spirituality, and connection with our past. The entrance is marked by another light box with the silhouette of the 3D scan that was made of the piece. Here, we understand that the god is standing with his back to the entrance, a position these religious images used to occupy in Greek temples, so that priests would have to move to kneel before the god. This is the act our scenography recreates. 

Archaeology Museum of Catalonia Website