The Cast Gallery is the public face of the Museum of Classical Archaeology. The first thing to remember about the collection of over six hundred casts (four hundred and fifty on display) is that nothing here is genuine. All the sculptures you see are accurate replicas cast from the originals, a painstakingly laborious process. The advantages of plaster casts are many. Groups of sculptures originally set up together but now split between various museums all over Europe can be viewed together as originally intended, for example the Memorial of Attalus. Another sculpture, the Lyons Kore, is in two halves, the parts even being in different museums! Here it can be seen put back together. Apart from their main use as visual aids for teaching, the casts are valuable in other ways. The best known sculpture in the Museum is the Peplos Kore, on account of its being painted as it may have been. Greek sculptures were brightly coloured, and casts can be painted to show the original appearance, whereas the original obviously could not. The coloured reconstruction of this piece was done by Professor R.M.Cook in 1975.
Similarly, the Lysikrates Monument in Athens: its sculptured frieze must have been largely intact when the monument was first recorded in the 18th century, but is now sadly eroded by the polluted air of Athens. Our cast is taken from an earlier cast made in the 18th century, thus preserving some figures which have now disappeared from the Monument itself.
A final word on the advantages of casts: should works such as the Parthenon Marbles ever go back to their country of origin, the casts will still be here to be studied and appreciated.