Arts of the Medieval Mediterranean


Level 3, Centre Street

Arts of the Medieval Mediterranean brings together works from the Walters’ medieval European and Islamic collections to illuminate the diversity and historic interconnectivity of cultures and artistic traditions around the Mediterranean Sea during the medieval period. Using new object groupings to illustrate the exchanges that occurred, the installation focuses on the interactions between cultures and religions, such as between Christian and Islamic Spain, North Africa and Sicily, and within the Levant during the Crusader period.

Located on Level 3 of the Centre Street building, the display is divided between two galleries: Arts of the Medieval Mediterranean, a new permanent installation, and The People of the Book: Medieval Mediterranean Manuscripts, a temporary installation of manuscripts, textiles, and light-sensitive materials in the adjoining space.

Featuring approximately 100 works, including 20 manuscripts and textiles and 68 works permanently installed, the galleries include standout objects such as two gilt and enameled glass beakers with Christian scenes and Arabic inscriptions, as well as the Ben Ezra Torah Ark door, part of the sacred architecture of a Jewish synagogue in Islamic Cairo, and The Conradin Bible illuminated by a southern Italian artist working in a Byzantine style. The works are placed to draw connections across cultures and collections.

Arts of the Medieval Mediterranean focuses on themes of architecture and the environment, the shared tradition of aquamanilia (a type of ewer or jug often in the form of animals or people), commerce and exchange, ivories, inscriptions and pseudo-script, pilgrimage and ritual, lusterware across continents and centuries, and light and illumination.

The People of the Book draws upon the Walters’ world-renowned collection of rare books and manuscripts, which spans more than 1,000 years and contains over 900 manuscripts, 1,300 of the earliest printed books, and 2,000 rare later editions from across the globe; it also includes textiles from both Coptic Christian and Muslim communities in medieval Egypt.