Over the last few months I’ve been having a great time working with two Classics undergraduates, Jess Matthews and Hannah Webbe, to produce a new display of the University’s ancient Cypriot collection, previously on temporary display in the Leeds City Museum. This blog has charted my progress in researching this collection:
- Early research on Nathan Bodington, who played a key role in bringing the collection to Leeds;
- Further research funded by the Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange at the University – starting to put the objects into their ancient contexts, with help from Thomas Kiely, A.G. Leventis curator of Ancient Cyprus at the British Museum;
- I also explored their more recent collection history, and a possible link to British Museum excavations in Amathus, in part by examining parallel British Museum donations, including in Nottingham;
- Thanks to the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, the objects received some expert conservation from Emma Bowron at Leeds Museums and Galleries, with great results, including some new discoveries; a few additional pieces also came to light at the University;
- Last year, the collection went on temporary display at the Leeds City Museum (with funding support from WRoCAH), until January this year.
So the next step was to bring the objects back to the University of Leeds, where they came to light in a cellar in 1913. Thanks to generous support from the Footsteps Fund, and from the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, Classics at Leeds were able to purchase a new custom-built display case, which is now housed in the Ullmann Foyer in the Michael Sadler Building (Michael Sadler, of course, succeeded Nathan Bodington as the second Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds).
Jess and Hannah have worked hard to explore the objects and their histories, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. We’ve had a lot of fun with this project over the last few months:
Getting a closer look at the objects and deciding how to group them:
Specifying and ordering the brand new display case!
Deciding on the mounts for the objects, and the all-important numbering cubes:
Turning the plan for the display into reality:
Getting the objects grouped just right!
The collection installed.
The final display in situ:
The launch on Tuesday 12 June – a lovely way of celebrating the interns’ achievement, and introducing colleagues to the new display.
Jess and Hannah have put together a great display featuring a selection of the objects, and focusing on themes of the collection’s origins; trade and imports; damage and restoration; and modern interpretations. The display has already been greatly admired, and helps to highlight the breadth of research that goes on in Classics. From my point of view, it’s amazing to be greeted by ancient Cypriot objects every time I visit the building! Many people have helped in many ways to make it possible, and we are very grateful for all their support.