As we approach the end of the semester, there has never been a better time to discover the treasure trove of antiquities that are located here in UCD. You either know and love the Classical Museum or you have yet to have the pleasure.
The museum is currently in the Newman building in room K216, where I was fortunate enough to discover my favourite spot on campus in my first year, largely thanks to being a classics student. However, the museum is open to all, and I highly recommend that if you have not yet already, to now take advantage of this unique opportunity on campus and pop down for a visit. I was delighted to have the chance to chat with the curator of the museum, Dr Jo Day, who splits her time between the museum and lecturing here at UCD, which she calls her dream job!
Here on display in the museum is a vast collection of antiquities such as Greek vases, Roman and Greek coins, Egyptian antiquities, papyri, terracottas, bronze and bone objects that were used in ancient daily life, just to name a few. Some of the most recent and largest acquisitions are Greek and Roman funerary stelai and a marble sarcophagus. What is most interesting about the museum is that although it is a fantastic collection, it is relatively small and yet it is still the largest collection of Greek and Roman antiquities on show in Ireland. This country seriously lacks something of the same calibre and no other collection like it is open to the public. The museum began collecting antiquities in 1910 and it was used primarily as a teaching tool for classics. Over the years the original collection was assembled by Rev. Henry Browne through gifts and exchanges with museums such as the British Museum and the Ashmolean. Today the collection largely remains unchanged, bar a few more acquisitions such as the stelai and sarcophagus. However, the museum has held exhibitions in the past such as “The Museum of Ancient History: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art,” which Dr Day curated alongside Pádraic E. Moore last year, so keep a lookout for any upcoming exhibitions!
During the pandemic, the museum was unfortunately closed for a period but is now back into the swing of things. Regardless of what you are studying, the museum is open to anyone and everyone. Dr Day notes that although yes, mainly Classics, Archaeology and History students are more familiar with the museum, there is no reason why it would not be of interest to everyone else. Whether you are in commerce, art, drama, English or anything in between, there is always something to find in this museum that you can learn from and even have it relate to your studies. Classics are so completely embedded in everyday life and hence the museum is in and of itself a perfect stepping stone to understanding such subjects and their history or to get inspired yourself. Dr Day also welcomes societies of all kinds to contact her to arrange visits and plan activities in the museum, events which have been very successful and enjoyable in the past. So, if you find yourself with some time on your hands, why not visit the museum for a truly unique experience right here on campus!
You can find the spring term opening times below or on their website for the most up to date information.
Angelina Pierce – Entertainment & Lifestyle Editor