About the Museum
The project, which became what is now known as the “Museum of Antiquities”, began in 1974 and was initiated by ancient historian Michael Swan and art historian Nicholas Gyenes, both professors of the University of Saskatchewan. The collection began as a small group of replicas purchased from the Louvre, but grew to include replicas from the British Museum, the Museum of Antiquities in Delphi, the Acropolis Museum in Athens, as well as others. The collection grew through the generosity of the University and private benefactors until, in 1981, new facilities were acquired, and the collection was officially opened as the “Museum of Antiquities.”
The long-range aim of the Museum is to offer a reliable and critical account of the artistic accomplishments of major epochs and civilizations, especially in the field of sculptural art. Since the first logical step in this endeavor was the presentation of a dependable picture of ancient Greek and Roman art as the foundation of much later western art, the present collection includes items from the Helladic to early Medieval periods.
While the aim of the present collection is to offer a reliable and critical account of the accomplishments of all periods and civilizations in the field of sculptural art, such an objective would be unattainable for museums of priceless “originals”, but it is within the bounds of possibility with a relatively inexpensive cast collection. It is not the rarity or fame of the work that determines the price of a replica, only the cost of production. A faithful copy of the priceless and famous Venus de Milo, for instance, entails no greater expense than would any other statue of its size. Although a replica cannot serve as an investment or status symbol for a collector, a well-crafted cast provides a unique instrument of study and research in addition to its aesthetic qualities.
Few know that the jealously guarded treasures of departments of antiquity in museums are mostly ancient copies of Greek works made to grace the dwellings of the Roman upper class, the Patricians. Without these ancient copies then, our knowledge of ancient statuary would be most fragmentary. Several references in ancient authors and a recent discovery clearly demonstrate that the intermediary procedure and technique used by the sculptors of antiquity correspond to the modern plaster casting technique.
Often a plaster cast will fare better than the original, made of marble or bronze, which has been destroyed or mutilated beyond repair. The replicas of the panels from the Parthenon frieze, for example, are in better condition than the original panels, which were until recently still in situ and had deteriorated, attacked daily by air pollution. Should some major disaster occur and destroy the original, the corresponding replica from this museum could easily be elevated from its humble station of a copy to the high rank of a prototype.
Thus we are doubly indebted to the procedure of replication: the easy, economical technique and light weight of its product makes it relatively easy to create and disperse high quality prototypes all over the world. Thanks to replication, the "survival of the species" is assured and we have the opportunity of knowing and appreciating, at such a distance in time and space, the great creations of the remote past.
The museum consists of a very small staff of three people including the curator and, during the summer season, a student assistant curator and a student assistant educational programmer. Also the museum benefits from a number of volunteer workers.
Catherine F. Gunderson has been employed as the museum's curator since 1984. She is well versed in the classical languages, especially Latin and has done extensive research on both the museum's permanent collection and recent exhibits. For more information on Cathy please see the Profile of Cathy.
Carrie Allen, a replica artist and archaeological illustrator, has been a volunteer at the museum since the fall of 2000. Her artistic expertise has been of great use in the museum's frequent and varying exhibits. For more information on Carrie please have a look at the Profile of Carrie.
Museum of Antiquities 2006-2007 Staff and Volunteers
Amanda Shirley is the Museum of Antiquities' Student Assistant Curator and is currently involved in various museum projects, including exhibit maintenance and preparation, collections management, research, and daily administration. She has recently convocated from the University of Saskatchewan with her B.A. Honours in Anthropology and Archaeology. Her specific interests include the artistic techniques of ancient cultures. In the future she plans to pursue a Master's degree in Museum Studies, focusing on exhibit design and development. She has contributed many replicas to the museum, including a Hellenistic golden oak wreath, the Royal Game of Ur, and the eagle surmounting a Roman Imperial standard. She has also practiced the bronze lost-wax process, created Roman mosaics, and crafted reproductions of figurines from Tanagra. Amanda's sculptural talents, her eye for design, and her ability to plan and lead the team continue to make her invaluable to the Museum.
Kate Bens has been with the Museum of Antiquities for three years. Last summer she was one of the Living History Workshops' Education Coordinators. She is in the fourth year of a B.A. Honours in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies. Her interests mainly lie in the Middle Ages, especially in Britain and Northern Europe, but she is also fond of Roman and Late Antique history. She loves to study issues of medieval gender, power and spirituality. She is especially interested in representations of the lives of King Edward the Confessor and Queen Edith, Peter Abelard and Heloise, and Queen Melisende of Jerusalem.. She plans to pursue further education as well as a career in illustration. She does costume art as well as reproduction of paintings such as the Minoan Taureador Fresco and Hans Holbein's Anne of Cleves.
Jonathan Barton started volunteering at the Museum of Antiquities in the fall of 2006. His impecable talent for photography and his thirst for knowledge have made him an incredible asset to the Museum. His photographs are featured in the Museum's upcoming catologue on our recently acquired Near Eastern Collection. He is currently enrolled in his first year at the University of Saskatchewan. His life's goal is to assist in the recovery of lost and stolen artefacts. He has a knack for spurring many interesting debates in the Museum for he well-read on various conspiracy theories and controversies regarding ancient history.
Stefan Berry is a very talented artist and art historian. His knowledge and talents have made him a great asset to the museum. Many of his pieces have been featured in the museum, including a Corinthian Helmet and a painted canvas map of the ancient Near East. While Stefan is greatly talented in many different mediums his passion is for architecture, and he hopes to one day pursue a career as an architect. Stefan is currently finishing his degree in Art and Art History, and this year is traveling to Prague with his class. He has played the role of Caesar, in tragic reenactments of his stabbing, many times for the Museum.
Chantal de Medeiros is new to the museum and the University this year. She is registered in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies with her focus being on medieval weaponry and architecture. Chantal's goal is to one day travel to Europe and study medieval architecture and monuments. In addition to Medieval Europe Chantal also has a keen interest in Ancient Greece and Rome. This year she is traveling to Rome with a 200-level history class to study its topography. Chantal's determination and enthusiasm for learning has made her a valuable resource to the museum. Her research on the Urkesh Lion is featured in the current exhibit entitled "Oasis: Civilizations of the Desert".
Laura Terms has a brightness of spirit and energy that is unrivaled. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she is always the one to get the rest of the group on board and excited. Laura is a third year Bachelor of Science Student at the University of Saskatchewan. Her interests include faunal archaeology and Northwest Coast archaeology. This year Laura hopes to attend the archaeological expedition in Isreal lead by Prof. Foley. At the museum Laura has done a lot of work identifying a collection of ancient coinage. She has also done a lot of research for our current Near Eastern Exhibit on Phonecian Ivories, as well as on Assyrian Weights.
Whitney Turple, while claiming to have no artistic talents, has been involved in a number of artistic projects around the museum relating to the exhibits. These include helping to paint the doors to resemble the Ishtar Gates of Babylon as well as the backdrop inspired by the glazed brick walls from the Palace of Darius I from Susa. Whitney has also been instrumental to the production of our didactic materials for the "Oasis" Exhibit, having researched and written on pieces such as the Baal Stele, Gudea, and the Archer Frieze.
Kara Wolfe has been volunteering in the museum for the past two years. She is a 3rd year Bachelor of Science Student. Kara's ingenuity has made her an integral part of the team at the Museum of Antiquities. She has researched Assyrian superstition, as demonstrated by the replicas of Pazuzu and the Hell Plaque depicting Lamashtu. One of her most recent contributions to the museum included the development and organization of a children's round at the museum's annual trivia night fundraiser. While Kara is very knowledgeble about the time periods and regions covered in the museum's mandate, her main interests lie in archaeology from the American Southwest and Mesoamerica.
The Policy Advisory Committee
Peter Stoicheff, Chair
Arts and Science
Department of History
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology