Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas
Sponsored by Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
11 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge, MA 2138
United States

Throughout time and around the world, people have adorned the walls of their homes, palaces, tombs, temples, and government buildings with painted scenes and designs. From cave paintings; the Neolithic shrines of Çatalhüyük, Turkey; or the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, to the contemporary works of Diego Rivera or graffiti art, artists have transformed blank architectural canvases into engaging, evocative works of art, through the application of color, pattern, and figures. While murals may serve as simple decoration, they are often highly symbolic, making visible a people's religious, political, and cultural beliefs, as well as their histories and values.

Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas explores the spectacular wall paintings from the Hopi village kivas of Awatovi in Arizona; the Maya murals of San Bartolo and Bonampak in Guatemala and Mexico, respectively; and the Moche huacas of northern Peru. The artists and artisans who adorned these walls left stunning visual accounts of some of the most significant and enduring stories of their times—stories that insist upon being read, even now, centuries after their creation.

The original art works remain for the most part in situ. Storied Walls uses the photographs and drawings of archaeologists, models, and fragments of original murals to examine the meanings and social uses of murals within the Pueblo, Maya, and Moche cultures; the history of their discoveries and investigations by affiliates of the Peabody Museum and others; and ongoing efforts to preserve and restore these fragile painted surfaces.

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