One of the oldest pieces of art in the world, the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, will go on display for the first time in five years. Visitors of the Regional Museum of Olomouc will be able to view the clay statue in a special high security glass box from Wednesday.
Around 30,000 years ago, when humanity was still deep in the middle of the Stone Age, someone took a piece of clay, moulded it into the shape of a woman, distinct with large breasts, belly and hips then fired up the object, hardening it forever.
The result was a statue about 11 centimetres long, which some archaeologists believe could have been a symbol of fertility.
Discovered in 1925, the statue has become famous around the world, but is also closely guarded.
Estimated to be worth USD 40 million dollars, the Stone Age Madonna spends most of its time locked up in a safe at the Moravian Regional Museum in Brno. A replica normally stands in its stead.
Now however, for the first time in five years, the real Venus is being brought out, the director of the museum, Břetislav Holásek, told Czech Radio.
Tight security measures are not just in place during the statue’s transportation, but will naturally also accompany the exhibition itself. Any thief or vandal trying to get their hands on the statue would have to break into a triple-glazed glass display case, the director explains.
“This is the empty show-case. You can see that it has special glass. We have loaned it for a large sum of money, it was brought in by a lorry and was put together by experts. It is very heavy and has to stand on a special steel base.”
The original Venus, perhaps the most valuable piece of human history in the country, will of course be the absolute centrepiece of the exhibition. But it is not the only one, says artist Petr Šubčík who designed the exhibit.
There will also be a section on the museum’s own objects and archaeological discoveries from Předmostí u Přerova, at site roughly the same age as the Venus of Dolní Věstonice.
“On display here are a statue of a Neanderthal and a mammoth. Then we have some prehistoric bones and stone instruments as well.”
The special exhibition is set to start this Wednesday and will run until December 8.