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Kaylee Spivey Good MA

PhD candidate

Area(s) of interest: Art History, Nationalism, Political History

Cohort/Start PhD: 2022-2023

The Theatre of the Museum: Case Study of Nationalism and The Parthenon Marbles in the Acropolis museum and The British Museum

VU University Amsterdam
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Gert-Jan Burgers, Dr. Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz
Start: August 2022

From the nineteenth century through today, Classical Greek artifacts are a staple within museums across the world. While there were many factors that led to amassing of classical collections, a large motivation for the focus upon classical art was to portray a national narrative of strength for the country that possesses these artifacts. The same remains true to this day. By asserting ownership of a cultural artifact, a nation is flexing their political dominance and strength through the act of possession.[1] As formerly occupied countries demand the return of their cultural heritage from former imperial countries, they are asserting new-found political strength. The former ‘invading’ countries struggle to find legitimate reasons to continue to possess these cultural artifacts. Giving up ownership of these artifacts would be a sign of their diminishing strength on the international stage. As such, the collections of current contested classical artifacts within former imperial power’s museums are theatricalized to strengthen the artifacts’ ties to their current display locations.

[1] Good, ‘Theatricalizing Classical Antiquities: Performative Museum Techniques in Nineteenth Century London’.