Page tree

Get started by adding some pages to this space. Create page.

Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata
Name: Chiara Marabelli

PhD: Museum Studies

In this research I am going to explore and combine my favourite fields of investigation: archaeology and museum studies. I am very interested in objects, their multiple stories, and the relationships and interactions between objects and people, specifically the ones established in the museum context.


Thesis Title: Original copies? Value of archaeological cast collections in contemporary museum practices


Thesis Description:

Plaster casts of archaeological subject have a dichotomous nature. In fact, they are not only copies of some of the most esteemed masterpieces of antiquity, but also have their own material realities and histories. However, this second aspect of casts, as objects in their own right, is somehow neglected. In the history of art, they have been seen mainly as means of diffusing the Graeco-Roman aesthetic canon around Europe from the Renaissance onwards. In museum displays today, too, the emphasis on casts as copies/representations appear to be the prevailing, sometimes the only, criterion in their classification. Concepts of original/copy are especially problematic in the field of Classical art: several ancient statues praised as “authentic” traces of the past and now exhibited as main attractions in important museums, are actually Roman copies of lost Greek originals.

 So, instead of only defining casts as copies, can we consider them per se, freed from the ‘replica’ label? How would this fact influence visitors’ perceptions? As I explored in my MA dissertation, both theories of materiality and empirical research show that casts, like other objects, have the power to elicit insightful responses, through their visual and physical qualities (three-dimensionality, texture, colour, etc.), before any information about them is given.

 The study will open up new possibilities of interpretation of and engagement with museum collections. Readdressing the value of casts will lead to their wider appreciation and utilisation, for both existing and new audiences, in the museum sphere. It will also point to ways in which questions around authenticity, copies and replicas are dealt with more broadly in museums and beyond.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Prof Sandra Dudley, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Prof Ross Parry, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Dr Milena Melfi, Assistant Curator of the Cast Gallery, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford


Academic qualifications:

 Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester - Distinction

 Specialisation course degree in Conservation and Management of Cultural Heritage, University of Siena - Distinction

 Master of Arts degree in Classical Archaeology, University of Pavia - 110/110 summa cum laude

 Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Pavia - 110/110 summa cum laude

Career achievements:

  • 2016: Collections assistant, The Roman Baths, Bath
  • 2015: Researcher and curatorial assistant in the CAST Project (“Collezioni d’Arte Scultorea del Territorio”), Musei Civici del Castello Visconteo, Pavia and Archaeology Museum of the University of Pavia, Italy
  • 2014: LLP Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme scholarship recipient; assistant in the FRAGSUS Project (“Fragility and Sustainability in restricted island environments”), National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, Malta
  • 2013: Curatorial assistant, National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta, Malta


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • 2018: November to February 2019 - Talking Antinous tour leader, for the duration of the exhibition Antinous: boy made god, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; 26/09 - Invited speaker, M3C Residential Induction, Stamford Court, Leicester; 13-14/09 - Colours of the Ancient World, (em)Powering Images picture exhibition, as part of the PhD Conference "Museums (Em)Power", School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester; 26/08 - Main speaker at the talk "Uno:Uno. A tu per tu con l'opera. La fama di Alessandro Magno dalla Danimarca all'Italia. Il caso dei fregi di Bertel Thorvaldsen", Musei Civici del Castello Visconteo, Pavia, Italy;  22/06 - Research Bytes Competition presentation, University's of Leicester Doctoral College; 06/06 - PhD Research Week presentation, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester; 24/05 - M3C Research Festival Research Relay presentation, Birmingham; 11/04 - speaker at Echoes: a Symposium on Classic-Modern Relations, University of Birmingham
  • 2017: 17/09 - Main speaker at the talk “Uno:Uno. A tu per tu con l’opera. Il Laocoonte e la fortuna delle copie in gesso”, Musei Civici del Castello Visconteo, Pavia, Italy
  • 2016:  10/06 - Museum Studies and Art Museums and Galleries Studies Dissertation Conference speaker, University of Leicester;  29/01 - FRAGSUS Project meeting speaker, University of Cambridge
  • 2014:  26/11 - FRAGSUS Project and LLP Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme presentation, National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, Malta




Other Research Interests:

  • Politicisation of ancient art, specifically sculpture

  • Classical reception studies

  • Iconography and iconology
  • Material culture and the cultural biography of objects

  • Authenticity in art and in museums
  • Archaeological curatorship
  • Sensory engagement and experience

University email address:

  • No labels