“Retracing the history of man fascinates me, as though some clue to our existence could be found,” Dominique de Menil wrote, describing the curiosity that led to her and her husband’s collecting of objects from the ancient world. Today the Menil Collection’s selection of antiquities includes several hundred works from Paleolithic to other pre-Christian eras, primarily from Europe and the Near East.
Though small, the Menil’s Cycladic collection, 3000–2000 BC, is one of the finest in the United States. The oldest works in the entire collection are Paleolithic objects from early hunter-gatherer cultures dating from 22,000–15,000 BC.
Greco-Roman holdings, while containing some examples of art of the Classical period, emphasize pre- and post-Classical cultures from Bronze Age Asia Minor and Archaic Greece. Also included are Hellenistic and Roman art from Asia Minor and Egypt. A small selection of prehistoric European antiquities from the later Iron Age or early Celtic period are also on view in the Menil’s antiquities galleries.