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Faculty of Classics

Following Hercules: Black and white engraving of naked Farnese Hercules from behind

Following Hercules: The Story of Classical Art

Curated by Dr Caroline Vout

Friday 25th September – Sunday 6th December, 2015

In the Octagon Gallery of the Fitzwilliam Museum AND The Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge
Hercules is one of the best loved heroes from ancient Greece. Known in antiquity for completing twelve tasks or ‘labours’ that confirmed his status as a god, Hercules is today tasked with one more - to show visitors to the Fitzwilliam Museum how sculptures made in the Mediterranean millennia ago came to define western art. Hercules inhabits each of the forty objects on display, which range from exquisite miniatures and Renaissance prints, drawings and paintings, to Wedgwood cameos and a giant polystyrene statue. The result is an arresting visual experience of differing scales, styles and material, which gives ongoing meaning to the ‘classical’.
The Museum of Classical Archaeologys cast of the Farnese Hercules is central to the exhibitions story and awaits your visit on the Sidgwick Site. Hercules is one of the oldest casts on the site and one of several to have come, via the Fitzwilliam, from the same early nineteenth-century collection in Battersea. Come and meet him, discover more about his story, and more about the cast of characters that accompanied him to Cambridge. In the process you will see why casts of Greek and Roman art remain awesome and relevant.
Please note: the final day of opening in the Museum of Classical Archaeology will be Friday 4th December.


Talk FITZWILLIAM: Wednesday 7th October, 6-8pm: 'The Cutting Edge of Classical Art'

Tours CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY: Friday 23rd October, 6-9pm: 'Casts by Candlelight'

Families CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY: Wednesday 28th October, 1-4pm: 'Following in the Footsteps of Hercules'

Talk FITZWILLIAM: Friday 30th October, 1.15-2pm: 'Hercules: The Thinking Person's Superhero'

Talk FITZWILLIAM: Wednesday 4th November, 1.15-2pm: 'Hercules and the Aesthetics of Exhaustion'

Talk CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY: Thursday 12th November, 6.30-7.30pm: 'In the Thrall of the Antique: Plaster Casts and their Viewers'

Talk FITZWILLIAM: Wednesday 18th November, 6-8pm: 'Collecting the Antique'

Panel CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY: Friday 20th November, 6.30-8pm: 'Victorian Visions of Greece and Rome: A Panel Discussion'


Find out more

Following Hercules at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Museum Highlight: the Farnese Hercules

Caroline Vout's faculty webpage



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Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

Admission is free.


Just drop in: no need to book


Lift out of order

Our lift is currently out of order which means we are not able to provide step-free access at present.


Opening hours

Tues-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat (univ. term-time only): 10am-1pm
Sun and Monday: Closed

Closed on Bank Holidays


Special Opening: Saturday 25 May 10-5pm

We will be open all day on Saturday 25 May to support the performance of Oedipus Tyrannus at the ADC. To request a group booking, please use our online booking form.


Saturday Opening

Please note: We are open on Saturdays only during University of Cambridge term time.

We are currently open on Saturdays until Saturday 8 June, inclusive.


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Museum of Classical Archaeology
Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue

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