The Nicholson Museum’s Greek collections contains artefacts representative of the material culture of the Greek mainland, islands and surrounding regions, from the Bronze Age through to the Late Hellenistic period. Although the wide range of ceramic vessels are the cornerstone of this collection, bronze and terracotta figurines, marble sculpture, rich jewellery items and numismatic objects contribute to its diversity.
During Sir Charles Nicholson’s travels to Egypt and Europe between 1856 and 1858 he acquired, primarily in Rome, a range of Classical and Hellenistic Greek ceramics as well as terracotta figurines. In total over seventy significant Greek artefacts were included in the founding donation of the Nicholson Museum. Further material, representative of the Greek mainland and islands, was bought during the curatorship of A.D. Trendall. His proactive acquisition program involved purchasing a wide range of ceramic types of Greek origin as well as significant contributions of sherd material for teaching purposes sought from prominent museums and individual collectors and scholars, including Sir John Beazley. The collection was then expanded following a donation of hundreds of pottery fragments and small votive objects by the family of former curator William J Woodhouse in 1948. The majority of this material is thought to have been collected during Woodhouse’s 1890s and 1930s trips to Greece, documented in the Woodhouse photographic collection. Most recent additions to this collection have come through generous benefactions and individual gifts to the Nicholson Museum.
Highlights from the Nicholson Museum’s Greek collection are on display in the exhibition Actors, Athletes and Academics: Life in Ancient Greece.