The Past on Display: A Curatorial Perspective

Our fifth lecture is by Dr. Catherine Lucinda Cooper, Rebanks Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology, Royal Ontario Museum.


Museums are one of the most public arenas of engagement with classical antiquity.  The highly visual experience of the museum encounter is subtly but fundamentally determined by how objects are selected and presented for display, and these displays have an enormous impact on perceptions of the ancient world.  Yet the academic and practical challenges encountered in creating a display are rarely considered.

Kate takes you behind-the-scenes of the recent redisplay of the Greece and Rome gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (UK), where she worked as curator, to examine the practical and conceptual issues that are involved in creating a display that is at once up-to-date, informative, accessible, and appealing.  The Fitzwilliam’s approach will be compared to other recent European displays of classical antiquity, such as that of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and the New Akropolis Museum, Athens.

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