Institute of Archaeology, University of Göttingen
Nikolausberger Weg 15
37073 Göttingen

Opening hours/access:
Please see dates on the page of the Institute of Archaeology:
Cast Collection of Antique Sculptures

Dr. Daniel Graepler

Tel.: +49 (0551) 39-7497
E-Mail: Dr. Daniel Graepler

Tel.: +49 (0551) 39-7502
E-Mail: Secretary's office
VIAMUS - Das Virtuelle Antikenmuseum

Göttingen University’s Institute of Archaeology is home to the oldest university collection of plaster casts in the world. Consisting of more than 2,000 original-sized reproductions of antique sculptures from over 150 museums, the collection is also amongst the largest of its kind in international comparison. The originals from which the casts are taken are mainly from Ancient Greece and Rome, while a small number come from Egypt, the Ancient Orient and Byzantium.

The initial foundations of the collection were laid by Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729 – 1812), who brought archaeology into being as an academic subject with the series of lectures on ‘Studies of the Antique’ that he held regularly from 1767. The plaster casts then standing in the University Library served him as visual material for this innovative lecture series. Heyne’s collection, which ultimately numbered approximately 70 items, was considerably expanded by Karl Otfried Müller (1797 – 1840), who among other achievements succeeded in acquiring from the British Museum numerous casts of the Parthenon sculptures in Athens. When the collection was moved into a new wing of the departmental building in Nikolausberger Weg where it remains to this day – the extension was built specifically for this purpose – it had grown to more than 1,000 items. Since the 1970s, the holdings maintained for research and teaching purposes have further increased, and to a significant extent. They have also been made accessible to the public. Arranged according to their era, the casts stand in eleven rooms. All statues are mounted on movable plinths with castors, for optimal use in teaching. Storage rooms in the basement house several hundred further casts – heads, busts and small sculptures. The collection continues to expand, the focus being on the history of the Greek and Roman portrait. The entire holdings of the collection of plaster casts are accessible for viewing online at, in the form of a ‘virtual museum of antiquity’.

Daniel Graepler

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