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.
Explore the science and restoration of Bacchus in this 360-degree video of the NCMA’s conservation lab.
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.