Cast Gallery Collection

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Cast collections

Carnegie Museum of Arts
  Pittsburgh, PA
William J. Battle Collection
  Univ. of Texas, Austin
Museum of Classical Archaeology
  Univ. of Cambridge
Ashmoleon Museum
  Univ. of Oxford
Classics Department
  Univ. of Edinburgh
Royal Academy Cast Collection
  London
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
  Moscow

The Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia owns more than one hundred plaster casts, mainly of celebrated works of Greek and Roman sculpture, but some made from works of later periods. Scale models of parts of three buildings illustrate the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. The collection is an old one, having been acquired from casting studios in Europe in 1895 and 1902. John Pickard (1858-1937), professor of classical archaeology and history of art and founder, in 1892, of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, chose the casts while traveling in Europe. He bought fifty casts and the architectural models in 1895, and according to reports in the local newspaper, he purchased 30 or 40 more in 1902. Four of the casts of ancient sculpture were gifts of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in 1973.

The Cast Gallery circa 1895 © Curators of the University of MissouriThe collection originally was exhibited in the Museum of Classical Archaeology and History of Art, which was housed in a large gallery on the third floor of the campus administration building, New Academic Hall, later renamed Jesse Hall. The Department of Art History and Archaeology was disbanded in 1935, and in 1940 the casts were pushed to one end of the gallery and hidden behind a curtain so that the Art Department would have enough space for its classes. At this time courses in classical archaeology were offered by faculty in the Classics Department, while the art of later periods was taught in the Art Department. In 1960 the Art Department moved to its own building, the Department of Art History and Archaeology was reestablished, and the casts again were exhibited in Jesse Hall. In 1975-76 the old Chemistry Building was renovated for the Department of Art History and Archaeology and the Museum of Art and Archaeology, and was renamed in honor of John Pickard. The cast collection was moved to the large front gallery on the ground floor of Pickard Hall, where most of it is on public display. Selected casts are kept in faculty offices and in storage.

The collection includes casts of works important for tracing the historical development of Greek sculpture. For example, casts of the Kouros of Tenea and the Athena from the Aegina pediment represent the Archaic period; casts of sculptures from Olympia and the Parthenon, the Diskobolos, the Charioteeer from Delphi, and the Doryphoros illustrate the fifth century, as the Apoxyomenos and a Scopaic head do the fourth century; casts of Hellenistic sculptures include the Laocoön, a section of the frieze of the Pergamon altar, and the Nike from Samothrace.

People have been collecting casts for centuries. In the Roman period, when many copies of Greek sculptures were made, plaster casts sometimes were used in the copying process. A renewed interest in antiquity beginning in the Renaissance and Baroque periods led many Europeans to acquire bronze and plaster casts of famous works. Cast collecting continued during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries many North American universities, museums, and academies acquired large collections of sculptural casts. Changing tastes in the 1930s-1940s regarded reproductions as old fashioned and no longer pedagogically useful, with the result that many institutions discarded their collections. A resurgence of interest in casts took place in the 1980s; their value as a tool for teaching Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture was recognized, as was their importance as models for drawing classes. People also became interested in the information such collections can provide about 19th-century aesthetics. Since in some cases pollution and restoration have altered the originals, scholars can study casts for details no longer preserved in the original sculptures.

Jane Biers
Department of Art History and Archaeology

Cast Gallery

The Cast Collection is on long-term loan to the Museum of Art and Archaeology.