Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas

September 16, 2017 – January 28, 2018, Getty Center

February 28 May 28, 2018, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Image of gold serpent like object with protruding tongue and text that reads "Golden Kingdom Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas"

"Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas explores the development of luxury arts from 1200 BC to the beginnings of European colonization in the sixteenth century. Made of precious metals and other substances esteemed for their color and luminescence, these works were imbued with sacred power by the people who created and used them.


In the ancient Americas, metals were employed primarily to create objects for ritual and regalia rather than for tools, weapons, or currency. The use of gold, transformed into objects for gods and rulers, provides the central narrative and trajectory of the exhibition, from Peru in the south to Mexico in the north. However, other materials were often deemed far more valuable. Jade, rather than gold, was the most precious substance to the Olmecs and the Maya; and the Incas and their predecessors prized feathers and textiles above all.


These works were often transported across great distances and handed down over generations, making them a primary means by which ideas were exchanged between regions and across time. Crucial bearers of meaning, luxury arts were especially susceptible to destruction and transformation; thus the works in the exhibition are rare testaments to the brilliance of ancient American artists."


From 2016-2017, I was a Graduate Intern at the Getty Research Institute where I contributed to the exhibition development and installation for Golden Kingdoms. I worked with Dr. Kim N. Richter, her wonderful team, and multiple departments of the Getty to finalize publication details, develop realted programming such as the symposium The Birth of the Museum in Latin America, and create educational material. This exhibition was an amazing opportunity that gave me an intimate opportunity to further explore so many significant cultural artworks and objecs but also experience working on a large-scale exhibition.


Co-organized by J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; curated by Joanne Pillsbury, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter.