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Field Trip: LACMA Olmec Exhibit

Olmec Head Carving
One of the Colossal Olmec
Head Carvings

During the Fall 2010 Semester CASAA sponsored a field trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Students were able to witness Olmec artifacts up close and personal, some of twhich they had been learning about during Professor Reilly's Art and Archaeology of the Olmec class.

With over 100,000 objects dating from ancient times to the present, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest art museum in the western United States. A museum of international stature as well as a vital part of Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collections through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract nearly a million visitors annually.

The "Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico" Exhibit:
Olmec civilization, which began sometime around 1400 BC, was centered in the Gulf Coast states of Veracruz and Tabasco. Olmec architects and artists produced the earliest monumental structures and sculptures in Mexico, including enormous basalt portrait heads of their rulers. The colossal sculptures that were present in the exhibition weigh between 7 and 10 tons each.

The exhibition also included small-scale jadeite objects that embody the symbolism of sacred and secular authority among the Olmec. Olmec artists were unsurpassed in their ability to work with this extremely hard stone, using elementary tools like chert, water and sand.

The event and exhibit was co-organized by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, LACMA, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Trip Highlights and Showcase