Secret History: Rediscovering Cornell’s Plaster Cast Collection

In the 1980s, Cornell University students ate lunch under the watchful eyes of several ancient Greek and Roman sculptures — the north wing portion of Cornell’s Plaster Cast Collection displayed in the Temple of Zeus Café inside Goldwin Smith Hall. Yet while alumni may remember the casts, few know about their history, their fate, or their future.

In this webcast, the collection’s co-curators will explore the history of Cornell’s collection of plaster casts of statues, statuettes, reliefs, and inscriptions from the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome; how it was originally displayed; and why it was dispersed in the mid-20th century. They’ll also discuss the future of a restored collection — from its use for contemporary students, scholars, and artists to its significance in sparking debates about the politics of classicism and the ethics of collecting antiquities. See the webcast here.

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Statue of boy inspecting foot