Museum Home Past Exhibitions Transforming Tradition: Ancient Motifs in Medieval Manuscripts

September 23–November 30, 2003 at the Getty Center


All events are free and are held in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. Seating reservations are required. For reservations and information, please call (310) 440-7300 or click on a Make Reservation button below.


Antiquity, Pseudo-Antiquity, and Anti-Antiquity in Medieval Art
Larry Nees, Professor of Art History, the University of Delaware, discusses the complex and conflicted attitudes of medieval artists and patrons to their Greco-Roman artistic heritage. Artists sought not only to emulate or rival but also to reinterpret, improve upon, or sometimes warn against the ancient tradition.

Sunday, September 28, 4:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Point-of-View Talks

Point-of-View Talks are held at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. in the Museum galleries. Sign up at the Museum Information Desk beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Alexander Mihaylovich, a painter who explores museological practice and the objectification of history through examination of ancient imagery and archaeological fragments, discusses the exhibition.

Friday, October 3

Family Festival

A day of celebration with performances by local dance and musical groups, storytelling, art making workshops, and gallery activities related to the exhibition. Produced by Community Arts Resources.

Saturday, October 19, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Museum Courtyard

Siren & Centaur / Unknown

Upcoming Manuscripts Exhibitions

Manuscripts in the Age of Cathedrals, 1200–1350
December 16, 2003–March 7, 2004

The term Gothic was coined by Renaissance writers who associated the style of the cathedrals built in France in the years leading to 1200 with the barbaric Goths. The word now evokes visions of soaring spires, gracefully swaying figures, and shimmering gold leaf. This exhibition celebrates the achievements of Gothic manuscript illumination in northern Europe from around 1200 to 1350. Characteristic aspects are an extraordinary sense of breadth and volume, the employment of the margins of the page as a field for figural decoration, and an explosion in the variety of illustrated books produced, ranging from scholastic treatises to entertaining romances.

Manuscripts in the Age of Monastaries, 800–1200
March 23–June 13, 2004

Focusing on the period in which characteristically medieval forms of book decoration came into being, this exhibition of manuscripts drawn from the Gettys permanent collection features highlights from the reign of Charlemagne (800–840) through the rise of the universities in Europe at the end of the 12th century. At that time, scribes and illuminators produced manuscripts of great variety and beauty, from the stately narrative scenes found in Ottonian liturgical books to the exuberant initials inhabited by biting dogs, a trait of illumination at Montecassino.