These sculptures, normally housed at Museo Nacional Chavín, were among those selected for a new exhibition at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich. Photos: Yutaka Yoshii
A major exhibition called “Chavín: The Arrival of the Gods in the Andes” opened at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich last month, bringing international attention to one of the most culturally significant archaeological sites in South America.
The exhibition, created in collaboration with leading archaeologists, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and the Swiss Federal Office for Culture, presents the first overview of the art and culture of Chavín de Huantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and a GHF project site since 2003. With international cooperation between Switzerland and Peru, the state of the whole temple and its sculptures was measured and documented in spring 2012 using laser scanners and aerial photogrammetry, leading to the creation of this first-of-its-kind exhibition.
A light stripe scanner is used to measure the temple complex. Photo: ArcTron 3D
Of the 200 or so artifacts on display, over 90 percent come from Peruvian museums and have never been shown outside of Peru. These include large stone sculptures and reliefs of supernatural human/animal composite creatures, precious clay vessels from the subterranean galleries of the temple, the oldest ritual gold jewelry of the whole of the Americas, and colorful, large-format textiles.
According to the museum, the design of the exhibition echoes the temple of Chavín, with sensory experiences replicated not just with objects but also with film and sound. Two films were produced specifically for the exhibition, including a 15-minute animation that offers a virtual representation of the temple and introduces its architecture and history, and a 34-minute documentary that explores the archaeology in more depth. A sound installation was created by Peruvian saxophonist Jean Pierre Magnet and Swiss trombonist Michael Flury, who found inspiration on site, and performed several concerts in Lima, Chavín and Zurich.
Local apprentices at Chavín practice art and stone conservation at a workshop funded by Museum Rietberg and the Swiss Federal Office for Culture. Photo: Gregor Frehner
Along with housing the exhibition, the Swiss Federal Office for Culture and Museum Rietberg are funding a training workshop for stone sculpture restoration in which Swiss specialists have worked in close collaboration with local apprentices to share knowledge of preserving endangered cultural artifacts.
Dr. John Rick, a member of GHF’s Senior Advisory Board and Project Director of GHF Chavín de Huantar, served as a consultant in the exhibition’s creation. He also contributed an essay to the 400-page accompanying catalogue in which a number of authors describe their research projects and results at the site. Dr. Rick, a Stanford University professor, has led GHF’s efforts since 2003 to support master planning, conservation of the site’s most critically endangered structures, and community development at Chavín.
“Chavín: The Arrival of the Gods in the Andes” runs through March 10, 2013.
Click here for more information on the Museum Rietberg’s website