Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru

Incas 3Experience the beauty of an ancient empire as the National  Gallery of Australia hosts Gold and  the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru from 6 December 2013.

Gold and the  Incas is the most important survey  of Peruvian art ever staged  in Australia and will showcase the splendour of the ancient pre-Hispanic  cultures of Peru. Audiences will encounter the aesthetic depth, drama and  beauty of the famous Incan empire and its predecessors.

More than 200 objects,  from scintillating gold pieces made to decorate the nobility in life or in  death, intricate jewellery, elaborate embroidered and woven cloths to  breathtakingly sophisticated ceramic sculptures will be on display.

For more than  2,000 years before the Spanish came to Peru, great cultures rose and fell, were  conquered by others or absorbed into them. Almost every artefact that survives  was buried with their owners, to be re-discovered in modern times.

Gold and  silver were plundered by the Conquistadors, sent to Spain and melted down to  make coins. But in the last 100 years there have been extraordinary  archaeological finds, and much scientific research is occurring today. Sites  such as Sipán and Chan Chan, Piura and Lambayeque have their own museums, and  have generously lent some of their greatest treasures to the National Gallery  of Australia.

Many extraordinary objects will be on view which belong to the  Larco, Oro and Amano museums in Lima, all founded by Peruvian archaeologists  and collectors, while the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and  History has a central role in national life.

As well as  being highly-skilled metalworkers, potters and weavers, the artisans of  Peruvian civilisation included in their works religious and political ideas  based on the importance of the natural world. Lively depictions of animals,  birds and fish decorate the works of art.

Technological inventions such as the  knotted string quipu provide a new outlook on the sophisticated world of the  Incas. The Chavín, Nazca, Moche and Chimú cultures were eventually overcome by  Inca warriors in the decades after 1400, themselves to be conquered by the  Spanish in 1533.

Gold and  the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition: 6 December 2013 – 21 April 2014
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: SICÁN-LAMBAYEQUE culture North coast 750–1375 AD Tumi [Sacrifical knife] gold, silver, chrysocolla, turquiose, lapis lazuli, spondylus; Museo Oro del Perú, Lima © Photograph Daniel Giannoni