Hall of Casts
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cast-plaster fragments of classical and historical buildings were collected so working-class people and students who couldn’t afford to travel would be able see some of the world’s greatest art and architectural masterpieces. Many American institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, created their own cast-plaster collections. In 2005, the Met’s collection was dispersed to a handful of academic institutions, including the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. The school acquired 30 architectural and sculptural casts then and has continued to add to the collection, including a 9-foot Madonna and Child cast taken from the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, friezes from the Parthenon in Greece and terra cotta fragments from a building in New York City. Some of the casts are now on permanent display in the Turner Family Hall of Casts in Walsh Family Hall of Architecture.
New York-based restorationist and sculptor Treese Robb has carefully restored many of the casts over the years, most recently the Parthenon friezes before their move from the School of Architecture’s former home in Bond Hall. Architecture students are often found in class and on their own drawing the casts and studying how light and shadow change their appearance. Notre Dame’s School of Architecture places a unique focus on teaching students hand drafting and watercolor skills.