Rescued from floods, Collections of antique Christian-themed Sudanese art are reimagined

A man points at a 9th century wall painting of Saint Anna
A man points at a 9th century wall painting of Saint Anna

In a United Nations effort to save the Sudanese artworks, Polish archaeologist Kazimierz Michalowski and his team uncovered Nile Valley art in Faras, northern Sudan, before the area was flooded by the Aswan Dam reservoir in the 1960s.

In a bold attempt, a mixture of wax was used to stick each of them to tissue to keep it together as the plaster on which they were painted was cut off the walls.

The Sudanese government has agreed to exhibit some 67 of the 120 paintings to Warsaw’s National Museum since the year 1972.

Recently, these paintings of Europe’s only exhibition of Christian-era wall paintings were enhanced by avant-garde multimedia and new setting installations.

The museum was also able to arrange the fragile, damaged wall paintings in settings reminiscent of the 8th-century cathedral that they had embellished, thanks to a donation by philanthropist Wojciech Pawlowski.

The interior is also separately recreated, with the paintings on the walls, in a 3-D film. On touch screens, children can assemble puzzles, do quizzes and learn about the history of the paintings and of Poland’s archaeology.

The upgraded exhibition opens to the public on Saturday.

The other paintings are in Sudan’s National Museum in Khartoum.


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