An exhibit at Kennesaw State’s Bentley Rare Book Museum features over 40 bronze statues from several ancient civilizations.
The statues featured in the “Discovering Bronzes” exhibit are on loan from the Buffalo Museum of Science in Buffalo, New York, where they were hidden away in a vault for several years before coming to KSU.
After KSU obtained the statues in 2018, associate professor of art history Dr. Philip Kiernan assigned students several of the bronze artifacts, such as an Etruscan mirror with Greek mythological figures Perseus, Athena and Medusa.
Students were tasked with researching each artifact to highlight their storied pasts, like bronzes the ancient Greeks made that glorified wars and figures of various ancient gods and goddesses.
KSU alumna Chloe Redstone was one of the many students who researched the bronzes. She was grateful that the ancient artifacts are no longer being hidden.
“What was once a piece unknown by the world lost in a drawer now has a name and place of origin,” Redstone said. “It took the hard work of a class of undergrads to compile hours and hours of research to help identify pieces of history.”
Redstone shared her personal journey of handling the bronzes. Working up close with the millennia-old bronzes required extra care.
“At first, it was quite intimidating, since I was nervous that I was going to break it somehow,” Redstone said. “When working with the bronzes, we had to wear white gloves that had minimal to no trace amounts of oil on them to help preserve the delicate nature of the metal.”
Redstone said the bronzes were stored in a padded box that had indentations for each item for added protection.
In addition to participating in the class research, Redstone worked on an extended project cataloging the different statues.
What started as the cataloging project turned into an opportunity to participate in the 20th International Congress on Ancient Bronzes. The conference focused on the representation, role and function of bronzes in history, and was held at the University of Tubingen, Germany, in April 2018.
Redstone and fellow KSU alumna Savannah Swinn presented a poster at the conference summarizing all the research and data the class had done on the history of the statutes. They were the only undergraduates at the convention.
Redstone remembered feeling intimidated at first, but the kindness of the attendants made things easier.
“All of the attendees were very helpful and gave great insight into the world of art history,” Redstone said. “They could direct us to certain sources to help us continue our research or direct us to another attendee that had done research on a similar bronze before.”
Discovering bronzes allows students to get up close with these relics of ancient civilizations and read about their rich histories for themselves.
“The exhibit is a walk-through time where everyone can experience these small bronze artifacts, that at first, no one hardly knew anything about,” Redstone said. “Through the hard work of some dedicated undergraduate individuals, we were able to do something that I personally think is incredible. I feel that we were able to pay our respects to the passage of time by learning about cultures and civilizations that lived before us.”
The statues are currently displayed with related works from the Bentley Rare Book Museum in the Horace W. Sturgis Library on the Kennesaw campus. The exhibit opened earlier this year and will run through the Fall 2019 semester.