Bacchus Conservation Project
The original derestoration project has made an about-face, based on compelling scientific, engineering, conservation, and curatorial data obtained over the last few months. There are more fragments from ancient quarries than previously thought, and displaying each separately does not make much sense. Together, these fragments create a wonderful statue of the Roman god of wine, probably put together in the late 16th or early 17th century. The recent discoveries make the composite sculpture more interesting as a whole, even though there is still that rare 2nd-century Roman torso embedded in it.
The Bacchus project team reformulated the conservation treatment and the interpretive strategy for the display of this fascinating composite statue in the Museum’s Classical Gallery. Instead of a derestoration, the project is now a re-restoration aimed at bringing Bacchus back to its original appearance. The sculpture will be consolidated, and the head—newly adorned with the old berries, leaves, and hair locks—will be reattached to the body. The right arm, missing since before the statue came to the Museum but known (from an old photo and an 1837 drawing) to have been held aloft holding a bunch of grapes, will be created and attached to the sculpture, following reversible conservation standards and procedures.
About the Project
The Bacchus Conservation Project is a multidisciplinary and multiphase endeavor that has involved curators, conservators, classicists, art historians, geologists, engineers, 3-D specialists, artists, and even a basketball player. In addition to historical research, scientific analysis, and conservation treatment, the project includes a special exhibition, a catalogue, and public programming.
The Bacchus Conservation Project is made possible by:
Bank of America
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (MA-30-16-0264-16)
Additional support provided by Steve and Frosene Zeis and Don Davis and Peggy Wilks.
Support for collection research and initial study of the statue of Bacchus is made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.
Inv. no. G.58.2.1
Inv. no. G.58.2.2
Modern and Contemporary Galleries
Inv. no. G.58.2.3
Behind the Scenes
The NCMA communications team is happy to work with members of the press to coordinate interviews, schedule photo shoots, and provide images. Email or call Kat Harding, Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing, at (919) 664-6795.
- North Carolina State University Basketball Player Lends an Arm to Ancient Statue
- North Carolina Museum of Art’s Statue of Bacchus Named as 2017 Art Conservation Project Grant Recipient by Bank of America
- North Carolina Museum of Art Receives $149,500 Matching Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to Complete Conservation Project on Statue of Bacchus
Softcover, full color
Edited by Caroline M. Rocheleau
8 5/8 x 11 in.
$30 + tax in-store purchase (please see our current hours of operation)
Bacchus was featured in a variety of virtual programs over the summer and recently appeared in two publications.
Curious about Bacchus’s transformation? Take a look at this video clip documenting the entire conservation treatment, and see Bacchus transform before your eyes.
Recent marble analysis of a composite sculpture of the Roman god of wine has led the NCMA to abruptly change its plans for this unusual artifact. Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau explains.
The Bacchus Conservation Project continues with an engineering analysis and marble sampling.
Before the statue gets taken apart, curators and conservators want to be certain just how it was put together.
Examination with gamma rays shows how the NCMA's Bacchus sculpture was put together and offers clues for how it might be taken apart.
To free the important ancient torso from its 16th-century surround, we’re looking at this composite statue in a different light. Literally…