Between 2008 and 2010 the Fitzwilliam Museum's principal display of Greek and Roman art and archaeology was dismantled and completely re-installed. The old arrangement dated back to the 1960s, and over subsequent decades the types of questions being asked about the ancient world had radically changed. At the same time huge advances had been made in conservation, environmental control and display-case design. The new display has brought the Fitzwilliam's antiquities collection into the 21st century. Issues arising from the latest research are now explored through new object and information arrangements in a modern style that still complements the 19th-century architecture of the gallery.
The physical refurbishment of the gallery formed part of a larger research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). here.
Among the questions we considered were:
- What was the ancient context of the antiquities, and how were they used and viewed by their ancient audiences?
- How has our perception of the objects been affected by their more recent, post-excavation history? In particular, how have the individual preoccupations of collectors shaped the collection as it is seen today?
- Can we discover more about the ancient materials and techniques used to create these antiquities?
- How do we conserve antiquities today?
- What processes are involved in redisplaying a museum collection, and what unexpected challenges were encountered?