Presented by Joanne Pillsbury, the Andrall E. Pearson Curator, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The earliest complex works of art in gold in the Western Hemisphere were made some 3,000 years ago in the Andes of South America. These finely crafted ornaments, made of gold sheet, speak to a rich supernatural world of snarling, fantastic beasts and other extraordinary beings.

In later periods, ancient Andean artists were particularly inventive in combining metals, and they developed innovative techniques to achieve a desired effect, including some that were more sophisticated than any known in Europe at the time. These technologies were deployed to create exceptional ornaments that transformed the royal body.

After 900 AD, gold was also used to produce elaborate drinking vessels—works that speak to traditions of great feasting and pageantry in the royal courts of the Incas and their predecessors. This talk shows how ornaments and vessels were vital players in acts of sacred and civic communication, channeling gold’s rich symbolic potential into some of the most spectacular works of art from the ancient world.

Drop in! This program is free. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

► Plan ahead for your visit with parking information.


MFAH Learning and Interpretation programs receive generous funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services; MD Anderson Cancer Center; Sharon G. Dies; the Sterling-Turner Foundation; Houston Junior Woman's Club; Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; the Kress Foundation; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; the Susan Vaughan Foundation;the CFP Foundation; the Cockrell Family Fund; the Joe Barnhart Foundation; the Carruth Foundation, Inc.; Mrs. Denise D. Monteleone; William A. and Madeline Smith Charitable Trust; Texas Commission on the Arts; the Claire and Theodore Morse Foundation; Dr. Angela Apollo; the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design; Mr. and Mrs. Dan English III; Mrs. Nancy Glanville Jewell; Marilyn G. Lummis; Mary Lynn and Steve Marks; the Summerlee Foundation; the Swergold Family Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wheeler; Christine and Jaime Yordan Foundation; the Junior League of Houston, Inc.; Polly and Murry Bowden; Nancy and Jim Gordon; and the Lubrizol Foundation.

All Learning and Interpretation programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, receive endowment funds provided by Louise Jarrett Moran Bequest; Caroline Wiess Law; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Fondren Foundation; BMC Software, Inc.; the Wallace Foundation; the Neal Myers and Ken Black Children’s Art Fund; Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Ballard; Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Tate; the Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation; Virginia and Ira Jackson; the Favrot Fund; Neiman Marcus Youth Arts Education; gifts in memory of John Wynne; and gifts in honor of Beth Schneider.