Machine Room of the Gods

How Our Future Was Invented
8 March to 10 September 2023

Press preview: 7 March 2023, 11.00 am

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Press text

Press release

Machine Room of the Gods
How Our Future Was Invented

8 March to 10 September 2023
Press preview: 7 March 2023, 11.00 am

In 2023, the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung is devoting an exhibition to one of the most exciting connections in the history of mankind – the connection between art and technology. It is a global narrative full of cryptic fables, myths, and visions, fictive and real innovations, and outstanding masterworks. The exhibition “Machine Room of the Gods. How Our Future Was Invented” will shed light on the history of the sciences in antiquity and the Arabic and Asiatic cultures and their influence on the development of art. Technology and art were closely intertwined in antiquity. The Greek term techne stands for all “arts” – of engineering, of construction, et cetera. Primarily, it concerns the knowledge and study of the human mind. Scientific research was pursued with the aim of advancing the human civilization and culture. Whether the pyramids of the ancient Egyptian mastermind Imhotep, the mechanical automata and animated sculptures described by the Greek author Heron, or experiments with the first camera obscura by the Arab mathematician Alhazen – they all exemplify how scientific and artistic work collaborate.

The Frankfurt exhibition will feature 97 prominent objects from international museum collections such as the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musei Capitolini in Rome, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, as well as from the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung’s own holdings, including the Statuette of Imhotep (Egypt, 332–30 BC), the Statue of Athena (Roman, AD 1st c.), the Statue of Atlas (so-called Atlas Farnese) (Roman, AD 2nd c., with modern additions), the Head of a Buddha (Cambodia, Angkor Wat, end of 12th–beg. of 13th c.), a Universal Astrolabe (by Aḥmad ibn as-Sarrāǧ, Syria, 1328–1329), the Maria Immaculata (by Matthias Steinl, Vienna, 1688), and the Apollo Kithara (by Jeff Koons, 2019–2022). The multimedia exhibition architecture will transform the entire Liebieghaus into a museum in which art and science of more than five millennia come to life.

Curator: Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann (Head of the Department of Antiquities and Asia, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)
Project management: Jakob Salzmann, assistant curator (Department of Antiquities and Asia, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)
Sponsored by: Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, Gemeinnützige Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH, Freunde der Tat des Städelschen Museums-Vereins e. V.
With additional support from: Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main
Media partner: Frankfurter Rundschau
Cultural partner: hr2-kultur

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Press images

Bilingual lexical cuneiform tablet with Sumerian and Accadian entries
Mesopotamia, late 1st mill. BCE
Clay, H. 8.1 cm, W. 6.5 cm, D. 2.2 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 86.11.61
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bilingual lexical cuneiform tablet with Sumerian and Accadian entries, Mesopotamia, late 1st mill. BCE

Water vessel (so-called Caeretaner Hydria), the Greek god Hephaestus being carried back to Olympus
Greek, 525 BCE
Clay, H. 41.5 cm, diam. 37.5 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. ANSA IV 3577
Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Water vessel (so-called Caeretaner Hydria), the Greek god Hephaestus being carried back to Olympus, Greek, 525 BCE

Statuette of the ibis-headed Egyptian god Thoth
Egypt, 400–200 BCE
Faience, H. 11.1 cm, W. 3 cm, D. 3.9 cm
Munich, Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer
Kunst, inv. no. ÄS 7908
Photo: Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, München, Roy Hessing

Statuette of the ibis-headed Egyptian god Thoth, Egypt, 400–200 BCE

Statuette of Imhotep
Egypt, 332–30 BCE
Cupreous metal, precious metal inlay, H. 14 cm, W. 4.8 cm, D. 9.8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 26.7.852a, b
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Statuette of Imhotep, Egypt, 332–30 BCE

Statue of Athena
Roman, 1st cent. CE (copy of a Greek bronze original by Myron)
Marble, H. 173.5 cm
Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, inv. no. 195
Photo: Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main

Statue of Athena, Roman, 1st cent. CE (copy of a Greek bronze original by Myron)

Portrait head of Aristotle
Roman, 1st–2nd cent. CE after a Greek original of the 4th century BC
Marble, H. 30.5 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. ANSA I 246
Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

Portrait head of Aristotle, Roman, 1st–2nd cent. CE after a Greek original of the 4th century BC

Buddha head
Cambodia, Angkor Wat, late 12th–early 13th cent.
Dark limestone, H. 34 cm, W. 38 cm
Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, inv. no. 979
Photo: Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main

Buddha head, Cambodia, Angkor Wat, late 12th–early 13th cent.

Historical rendering of the famous Elephant Clock by al-Jazarī (12th–early 13th cent.)
Iraq, 1315 CE
Ink, watercolour and gold on paper
H. 51 cm, W. 38.7 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 57.51.23
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Historical rendering of the famous "Elephant Clock" by al-Jazarī, Iraq, 1315 CE

Matthias Steinl
Maria Immaculata
Vienna, 1688
Limewood, traces of gold gilding, H. 93 cm
Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Inv. 1532
Photo: Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main

Matthias Steinl, Maria Immaculata, Vienna, 1688

Tony Freeth
Digital reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism
Photo: Tony Freeth

Tony Freeth, Digital reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism

Jeff Koons (*1955)
Apollo Kithara
2019–2022
polychromed PMMA and animatronic snake
233.6 x 110.7 x 77 cm
New York, Jeff Koons Studio
© Jeff Koons, Photo: Eftychia Vlachou, Courtesy DESTE Foundation

Jeff Koons, Apollo Kithara, 2019–2022
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Pamela Rohde

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rohde@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-170

Susanne Hafner

Referentin Presse und Onlinekommunikation
hafner@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-212

Elisabeth Pallentin

Referentin Presse und Onlinekommunikation
pallentin@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-195

Carolin Fuhr

Presse und Onlinekommunikation
fuhr@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-234

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Dates

7 Mar. 2023, 11.00 am
Press preview: Machine Room of the Gods. How Our Future Was Invented
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