The Cyrus Tapestries

Common Threads: Weaving Stories Across Time

The Museum’s magnificent set of 16th-century Flemish tapestries depicting scenes from the life of the Cyrus the Great, an ancient Persian ruler, provide the stage for a new opera by renowned composer David Lang, with a libretto by the playwright Sibyl Kempson. This new work—true pearl: an opera in five tapestries—was made specifically to be heard in the Museum’s Tapestry Room, the site of numerous musical performances in Isabella’s lifetime.

The story told in these works begins with King Astyages Commands Harpagos to Take the Infant Cyrus and Slay Him, and proceeds with the tapestries to the right.

Listen as Tess Fredette, the Museum's Textiles Conservator, discusses the recent restoration and conservation efforts made to preserve these tapestries.

The tapestries are one part of the contemporary exhibition, Common Threads: Weaving Stories Across Time. On view in Hostetter Gallery beginning October 4, 2018.

Common Threads: Weaving Stories Across Time is supported in part by Amy and David Abrams, The Coby Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Barr Foundation ArtsAmplified Initiative, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which receives support from the State of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Media Sponsor: WBUR