Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a curator for National Museums Liverpool? Here Chrissy Partheni tells us about her first few weeks doing just that.
Having worked at National Museums Liverpool for 15 years in roles that involved interpretation and public engagement as well as partnerships with other museums I am honoured and excited to take up the post of the curator of classical antiquities at World Museum. The significant variety and quality of the collections, ranging from Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean art to classical pottery, the Ince Blundell sculptures, and the Anglo Saxons.
The task of getting to know such vast collections can be overwhelming but it is eased off by the support and expertise of my colleagues as well as the excellent work of previous post holders. The interesting requests raised by students, researchers and the public can only motivate me to want to explore more about these items: what were they used for, who by, how did they end up in our museum, and how can the public engage with and enjoy them and what can I do to facilitate that interaction?
I trained as an archaeologist in Thessaloniki Greece and worked in excavations at the Hellenistic world of ancient Pella, the second capital of the Macedonian state of Philip and Alexander the Great and an important site for Hellenistic tombs. You may have heard about the important excavation of the Kasta Hellenistic tomb in Amfipoli, also in the Macedonia region of Northern Greece.
Being Greek I have an emotional connection with the Greek collections. Strolling through the galleries and exploring the collections at store makes me feel closer to home and my roots. Among my favourites are the Cycladic marble figures ( that look more like Henry Moore sculptures! ), the Mycenaean pottery and female devotional figurines and the classical Greek pottery.
Many years ago and while working as the public events officer at World Museum I ran public sessions about the shapes and decoration of the black and red figure painting in the Ancient World Gallery. I discussed the two different methods of decoration as the result of the firing process and not the application of paint and this fascinated people. I am hoping to be repeating these talks soon about classical potters and painters in our collections. It may be a surprise to some that a number of ancient potters and painters were famous for their workshops and pottery production, a bit like our fashion brands these days.
There is a range of skills you develop as a curator and there is never the same day on the job. In my first two weeks I have researched appropriate loans for an exhibition on Beauty at the Atkinson Art Gallery, reinstalled Anglo-Saxon objects in the Ancient World gallery , familiarised myself with the different keys and store rooms. We will soon be arranging the photography of the Ince Blundell sculptures and I will be working to digitise the Cypriot collections. All these little and big jobs fit well to the sole purpose of engaging more people with our museum and making better connections.
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