Cast Collection

Head of the Dying Gaul, cast

When Christian Gottlob Heyne founded the first university cast collection in Göttingen in 1765, there were not yet any specialist shops for plaster casts. Travelling dealers often offered only the heads of the coveted masterpieces. Thus, a cast of the head of the "Dying Gaul" from the Capitoline Museum in Rome reached Göttingen before 1788. It was not until 1898 that a cast of the entire statue - a major work of Hellenistic sculpture (original c. 220 BC) - could also be acquired.

around 1785?

Coloured plaster casts of an archaic girl's head

It has been known for a long time that ancient marble works were always painted in colour. But it is only recently that intensive research has made it possible to gain a more reliable picture of the original appearance of the sculptures. Reconstructions based on plaster casts play an important role in this. They are painted with natural pigments made according to ancient recipes. The heads shown here (original c. 530 BC) were made by students as part of a seminar.


Prints of gems from the Original Archaeological Collection

Cut ring stones (gems) made of semi-precious stones or glass were very common among the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. In the early modern period they were eagerly collected. The most reliable form of publication were impressions made of various materials, compiled in so-called dactyliotheques. This genre experienced its heyday in the 18th century. A very late example from 1931 is shown here: Impressions of original gammas from the Göttingen collection. 

Johann Friedrich Crome / 1931

Negative and cast of a statuette of Aphrodite

Even the ancient Egyptians used plaster as a moulding material. Since the Renaissance, plaster casts have been part of the basic equipment of art academies, and in 1765 they were purchased for the first time for a university in Göttingen. Plaster casts are made from negative moulds, which in the past were usually made of plaster themselves. However, it is easier to make casts from flexible silicone moulds. Since the 1970s, this impression material has become widely accepted. On display are a silicone mould and a cast of a statuette of Aphrodite, the marble original of which is also in Göttingen.


Cast Collection of Antique Sculptures

The Archaeological Institute of the University of Göttingen has the oldest university cast collection in the world. With more than 2,000 true-to-scale reproductions of ancient sculptures from over 150 museums, it is still one of the largest institutions of its kind. The exhibits are mainly from the Greek and Roman cultural spheres. The cast collection is still a central component of teaching at the institute today.

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