Why? Casting Knowledge

MCA Lecture Theatre

In my usual line of research I am used to thinking about why plaster casts of antique statuary were used to teach art and design in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The collection that was put together for the Museum of Classical Archaeology in the late nineteenth century poses different questions about the transmission of knowledge through objects. The photograph above represents the casts in the context of the lecture theatre (many still have the wheels underneath the pedestals that allowed this mobility). Although the casts are no longer quite so mobile (you’ll spot them in various locations around the Faculty of Classics) they are still mobilised for teaching, though not as the didactic instruments of the nineteenth century. It has been interesting witnessing the supervisions that take place in the Museum, which seem to use the plaster casts as discursive or dialogistic objects rather than unmediated archaeological ‘evidence’.

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University of Cambridge Museums

Archive of projects, events and news from 2012 to May 2017

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