Welcome to the Plaster Cast Collection
The Fairfield University Plaster Cast Collection is a growing collection of plaster casts representing works of art from the Classical world through the Renaissance, with an emphasis on ancient Greece and the Parthenon. A majority of the casts have been lent to the University on a long-term loan basis or gifted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additional gifts have been made by individuals.
Thirty-eight of the casts from the collection are on view in the Bellarmine Museum of Art, while the remaining works are stored in Loyola 13 and 14, and can by seen by appointment only. For an appointment to see these casts, please contact Dr. Katherine Schwab, Curator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 254-4000, ext. 2439.
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A generous long term renewable loan beginning in 1991, along with deeply appreciated gifts in 2004 and 2009 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Historic Cast Collection, have given Fairfield a first rate and growing plaster cast collection. It has also provided an ongoing and welcome opportunity to have groups of talented and motivated students assist with cleaning, research, initial web design, and preparation of the casts for installation in the Bellarmine Museum of Art. The Plaster Cast Collection at Fairfield University serves as a remarkable resource for teaching and research for the University community and the region.
The casts in the 2004 gift are mostly representative of sculpture from the Parthenon, including examples from the frieze, metopes, and pedimental figures. Additional casts of well known sculptures from the periods preceding and following the Parthenon and High Classical period provide a visual continuity. The casts in the 2009 gift represent Medieval and Renaissance sculpture providing a connection between the Kress Collection of Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings and the plaster casts representing masterpieces from the Classical past.
We have also received two plaster casts on loan from Yale University, and several gifts from private donors, including a substantial number of casts that were originally part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Historic Cast Collection.
Our seminars on plaster casts introduce students to the origin of plaster cast collections starting with Francis I of France in the 16th century. This is followed by an exploration into the interest and demand that grew beyond royal collections to museums and universities throughout Europe. Subsequently, the seminar students turn to the United States where cast collections began in the 19th century, in such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a distinguished collection was created representing the most important works from Antiquity through the Renaissance. Initially desired for educational purposes, plaster casts fell out of favor both in Europe and the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century. As a result, our students are experts on the collection and its importance within the larger phenomenon of cast collections. The culmination of our students hard work is a lasting contribution to future generations of students and the University community, all of whom will be able to enjoy this collection.
Since the 1970s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has successfully lent much of their collection to universities in the U.S., including Fairfield University, and abroad. This loan and these gifts of casts both deepen our collection and offer many new opportunities for teaching and research.
The popularity of casts is growing again in the international arena, and our collection at Fairfield is the subject of inquiry by colleagues and specialists elsewhere in the U.S. and in Europe.
Many individuals made it possible for us to have this gift of plaster casts at Fairfield, including curators from the departments of Greek and Roman Art, Medieval Art, and European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and colleagues and administrators from Fairfield University:
Katherine A. Schwab, Ph.D.
Professor of Art History
Department of Visual and Performing Arts
Curator, MMA Cast Collection at Fairfield University