Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

1/1/2009 - 12/31/2009

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

The Museo Pio-Clementino and the Greek Ideal

FAIN: FB-54175-09

Jeffrey Laird Collins
Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-9800)

I seek an NEH to complete my book on the creation of the Vatican's Hall of the Muses in the late 18th century. As the core of the popes' novel but little-studied Pio-Clementino museum of ancient art, the Hall marks a vital step towards modern interpretive and curatorial practice. A spectacular (but illegal) find in an ancient villa catalyzed one of Europe's first custom-built museums, unique in keeping key objects together and evoking ancient Greek civilization in three dimensions. My book traces its conceptual and practical evolution, from the artifacts' excavation and restoration to their installation, publication, and subsequent fortunes. By scrutinizing the campaign from multiple viewpoints, I ask how the Hall of the Muses pioneered museological strategies and notions of cultural patrimony we now take for granted. Combining archival research with contextual analysis, this case history illuminates debates about the ownership and meaning of antiquities that are still raging today.