Monday, 19 January 2015

Adventures at The University College Dublin Classical Museum

This week we're celebrating the success of a recent project at the University College Dublin Classical Museum. The museum is located in the heart of the university’s School of Classics. It houses Ireland’s leading teaching collection, including a very fine coin collection, a range of inscriptions, and vases from right across the span of classical antiquity. The UCD Classical Museum was also the place where we first presented our ideas for using vase animations in museums at 'The Museum Artefact and Cultural Space’ back in 2009, so it’s extra nice to be back there working with the collection.


The recent project has focused on a late classical krater vase. The vase depicts a festival scene, in which the goddess Nike, holding a bull on a halter, appears before two torch-bearing youths. In a seminar on the Ancient Materialities module, part of the UCD MA in Classics, postgraduate students explored the role of vase animation in exhibiting classical collections, and then worked together to interpret the vase and to plan an enjoyable vase animation that would help visitors to understand the scene. Here you can see a couple of shots of the planning session:

Curator Dr Jo Day picks out a detail on the vase

MA students planning the animation

Sonya talking vase animation with the MAs

The storyboards created by the MA students’ have now been transformed by Steve into a beautiful animation. The animation will be available on a tablet in the museum for visitors to watch as they look at the vase. It will also be available on the Panoply and UCD websites, so that it can be seen by people who can’t make it to the museum and those who just want to see it again! The animation is only one part of the students’ new presentation of the vase. They have developed and set-up an exhibition exploring the themes in the vase scene, such as ancient festivals and the goddess Nike. Their exhibition also explains how vases were made, decorated, and used in classical Greece. Here they are setting it up:

UCD MA students preparing the museum exhibition

Preparing the case

Finishing touches

The animation on display with its vase

Pop along and see the exhibition for yourself! The museum is open during term time on Tuesdays (11.00 - 16.00), Wednesdays (14.00 -15.00), and Fridays (11.30 - 14.30). School groups are always welcome, although they should book in advance.

The animation will be online with its own page soon. Visit again soon to see it, and keep track of updates through Twitter (@SonyaNevin) or through our new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/panoplyvaseanimation.

If you’d like to know more about vase animations in museums (including the UCD project), you can now read ‘Using Animation for Successful Engagement, Promotion, and Learning’, by Prof. Amy Smith and Panoply’s Dr Sonya Nevin in Advancing Engagement: Handbook for Academic Museums, Volume 3, S. Jandl and M. Gold (eds.), MuseumsEtc Ltd: Edinburgh and Boston, 2014: 330-359.

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