February 17, 2016

Cornell Cast Collection Figures Introduced to Klarman Hall

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Students and faculty passing through Klarman Hall can now admire a cast of the Flying Nike which was installed in the hall’s atrium on Feb. 10, according to the University.

The Flying Nike — the Greek goddess of victory and one of many restored pieces from the College of Arts and Sciences’ cast collection — is the first of several plaster figures to be added to the atrium.

The collection was compiled in the late 19th century and “is a valuable antique collection in its own right,” said Prof. Verity Platt, classics and history of art, curator of the Cornell Cast Collection.

Prior to installation, many of the casts were on display in the Museum of Classical Archaeology, on the ground floor of Goldwin Smith Hall. Most were later moved into storage when the space was replaced by the Temple of Zeus café, according to Platt.

Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, said she enjoyed seeing the casts on display when she was a student.

“When I came [to the café] to drink coffee and study, I felt inspired by my surroundings,” Ritter said.

Ritter added that she thinks many students and alumni share her feelings of admiration for the artwork.

“I think many Cornell alums have similar memories and will be quite pleased to see some of the casts brought out of storage,” Ritter said. “They’re here to inspire a new generation of students.”

The casts were also added to provide a sense of historical continuity between Klarman Hall and Goldwin Smith Hall, according to Ritter.

“We hope to give an exciting, striking visibility to the humanities by displaying casts that have much to tell us not only about classical antiquity, but also its reception over time, as well as the importance of the visual arts at Cornell,” Platt said.

Ritter said she hopes the casts will continue to inspire students and faculty.

“I hope they serve as a point of inspiration and discussion for those in the space and I hope that they will make people curious about the excellent faculty and great courses taught by our Classics department,” Ritter said.

The casts serve as a nod to the history of teaching and scholarship, according to Platt.

“The casts are also interesting as a technology that was particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, which played an important role in the teaching of art history, classical archaeology and the fine arts,” Platt said.

The casts are also an academic resource, as they are one-to-one replicas of original Greek and Roman sculptures, many of which are held in museums in across Europe, Platt said.

Future additions to the atrium will include a display of bronze sculptures from Herculaneum and several sets of friezes — horizontal bands of sculpted or painted decoration — like the Nereid, Harpy Monuments and the Temple of Athena Nike in Athens, according to Platt.