The University of Canterbury’s acclaimed James Logie Memorial Collection has sustained significant damage in Saturday’s earthquake.
The damage to one of the finest collections of Greek and Roman antiquities on public display in the southern hemisphere is devastating to the University says Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr.
“Staff entering the premises on Saturday were confronted with damage which ranged from minor chipping to substantial breakages.
“Fortunately, one of the most valuable items – the Stilts vase by the Swing painter – is currently on loan to the Getty Villa in Malibu, California, where it features in The Art of Ancient Greek Theatre.”
The Logie Collection, established in the 1950s in memory of the former registrar of the university, James Logie, is valued at several million dollars. It is best known for its holdings of black-figure and red-figure vases. It also contains Minoan, Mycenaean, Geometric and Orientalising pottery, Greek and Roman inscriptions and coins and some fine examples of sculpture from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The collection includes almost 250 items, of which some are on loan from the Otago Museum, the Christchurch Art Gallery, Canterbury Museum and the estate of Marion Steven.
The Head of the Classics programme, Dr Alison Griffith, said staff were “heartbroken” at the extent of the damage but added that it could have been worse.
“We have special display cases with sand bags in them. In five of the eight cases, the items wiggled and fell but only suffered minor damage such as chips and paint scraps. With the larger items, there was more serious damage as they hit the glass.”
Dr Carr said the University was extremely fortunate to hold the rich collection of antiquities and would be doing all it could to do to preserve and restore the precious items. The University is working closely with its insurer and the assessors.