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The girl and the sea

Thousands of years old, mysterious depictions of sea creatures – Florence Gottet collection

22 October 2016 – 2 April 2017

This special exhibition at the Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel (Toy Worlds Museum Basle) is dedicated to so-called fish plates. The name is derived from their characteristic markings; yet it is not known how they would have been referred to in ancient times. The 60 or so dishes on display were created around 350/325 B.C., mainly in Campania, Apulia, Paestum and Athens. They were homage to life and earthly pleasures and gave expression to the hope of a happy afterlife. Fish and the sea were symbols of life, as they still are today – the ocean is effectively the source of all life.

The extraordinary thing about this remarkable exhibition is its genesis. The fish plates belonged to a young girl, Florence Gottet, who sadly died much too young. The fun-loving daughter of the Gottet family felt closely connected to the sea and its inhabitants throughout her life. She once asked: Do fish laugh? The playful, colorful fish paintings exerted a great fascination in her. Pablo Picasso also drew inspiration from the depictions on the fish plates, producing artistic ceramic creations of his own. Six of his interpretations of fish plates from the 1950s can be seen in the exhibit.

The fish plates have a very distinctive shape: The smooth surface of the plate rests on a trumpet-like foot that dips slightly toward the center. There is a small round indentation at this point. The outer edge of the plate is bent almost vertically downward, hiding a large part of the foot. Due to the plates’ unusual shape, many attempts have been made to explain their use. The debate still rages today among experts of the field. The fish plates harbor unaired secrets: Were the plates used to serve fish dishes or as objects of a particular drinking game? Or were they rather burial objects? Perhaps they were used as multifunctional tableware in various situations. Make up your own mind by visiting our special exhibition The girl and the sea and contribute toward the search for an answer to this mystery.

Archived material from the Winckelmann-Museum Stendal enables the direct comparison between the depictions on these ancient fish plates and for example moray, ray, squid, octopus or goatfish; all inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea. By way of our small aquarium, visitors have the opportunity to absorb the simultaneously joyful and calming effect of these sea creatures.

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The culinary world

Ristorante La Sosta

The culinary world

Ristorante La Sosta

For appetites both great and small. Open daily, with hot dishes available throughout opening hours.

To Ristorante La Sosta

Including the current special exhibition

Public tours

Including the current special exhibition

Public tours

Tours are given on the 1st Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. Duration: About 1 hour.

To the tours

Our

Opening hours

Our

Opening hours

Opening hours, including holidays, for the museum, boutique, and Ristorante La Sosta.

To the opening hours

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