Curating Ancient Glass in the 21st Century Museum: The Case of the Yale University Art Gallery

Author(s): Sara Cole

Year: 2015


The Yale University Art Gallery’s ancient glass collection has never been the subject of a dedicated exhibition, despite being one of the most extensive of its kind in the United States. As a YUAG Graduate Curatorial Intern (2012-2014), I curated a future exhibition of this collection. Numerous pieces will be available for public view for the first time, drawing together examples covering a timespan of over 2,000 years and a geographical range from the Levant to the western Roman provinces. The objects illustrate the evolution of an industry and the artistic and social factors that impacted the aesthetics and functional use of glass in antiquity.

This project allowed me to examine the role of the museum in collecting, conserving, and displaying ancient glass. For instance, I explored ways to use glass from Yale’s archaeological excavations to contextualize unprovenanced objects. I also curated plans to integrate more of the YUAG’s ancient glass collection into the permanent gallery, so as to make this resource more widely accessible. This talk employs the YUAG’s forthcoming exhibition as a case study to investigate how museums can best utilize their ancient glass collections to the benefit of specialized scholars, students, and the general public.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Curating Ancient Glass in the 21st Century Museum: The Case of the Yale University Art Gallery. Sara Cole. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396525)