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Students restore casts of Parthenon Sculptures

The College of Staten Island [1] are no the only institution in the US who are getting their students to help restore casts of the Parthenon Sculptures. Hopefully the students involvement will also lead to them finding out more about the circumstances of the acquisition of the originals.

Daily Toreador (Student newspaper of Texas Tech University in Lubbock) [2]

Tech students restore Parthenon casts
Anne M. Shepherd
Issue date: 1/17/07 Section: La Vida

Gilbert Jones, a senior art history major from Lubbock, and Megan Grann, a senior art history and French major from Arlington, have had their hands full this year. Not only are they both honors students preparing to graduate in May, but they also have been working on a project to restore eight casts for display in the Art Building on the Texas Tech campus. Grann and Jones were both well-suited for the project; their concentrations lay in the fields of Pre-Columbian art history and Mediaeval art history, respectively.

Janis Elliott, an art history professor, directed the project, which began in September.

Elliott said at first nobody really knew anything about the casts, including where they came from and how old they were. Thus, when Jones and Grann began the process of restoring the casts, they had their work cut out for them.

Jones and Grann had to figure out where the casts had come from historically, so they went to the University of Texas to gather information.

Elliott said they now believe the casts came from the UT Battle Collection and arrived at Tech in 1957. Elliott said six of the casts were made from the western Ionic “frieze” of the Parthenon, which was constructed in the 5th century, B.C. The frieze, which is the band on the Parthenon between the roof and the pillars, depicts different scenes. The particular portion of the Parthenon the six casts were taken from depicts the “Panathenaic Procession,” a procession the Greek warriors historically made to honor the goddess of Athens.

The two remaining casts are from the west facade of the Church of Saint-Fortunat in Charlieu in the Loire valley, France, constructed in the early 12th century.

After researching the casts at UT, Grann and Jones returned to Lubbock and began cleaning them.

“They were in really bad condition,” Jones said.

Both Jones and Grann said they agreed the process of cleaning was long and difficult.

“We had one marathon painting session,” Jones said. “It took like nine hours.”

“It was interesting to say the least,” Grann said.

Jones said John Dennis of the Dallas Museum of Art came to Tech to offer pointers concerning how to preserve the casts.

“(Restoring the casts) has been a really good exercise in what it takes to be a scholar,” Jones said.

The project’s difficulties involved more than simply the cleaning process; Grann and Jones said they found it difficult to write for the displays since students without art history or architectural backgrounds might not be familiar with many of the terms used to describe the casts.

“These two have done everything,” Elliott said of Jones and Grann.

“We couldn’t have finished it without all the help we’ve received thus far,” Jones said.

Elliott explained the casts are important because they are examples from critical periods of art history.

“It’s wonderful to have this because it’s a great teaching aid,” Elliott said of the casts. “We teach art history here – we have to teach about the Parthenon. And here we’ve got examples, these plaster casts, but they’re casts from the original sculptures. They’re the next best thing to being able to go to Athens.”

A formal unveiling of the casts will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in room B-01 of the Tech Art Building with a reception and viewing of the casts to follow. The event is free and open to the public.