Archeologists now have a new reason to come to MU. As part of a new pilot program, the university is receiving artifacts on loan from the world's oldest museum, the Capitoline Museum of the City of Rome.
The MU Museum of Art and Archeology has already received its first loan- a set of 249 black-gloss ceramics dating back to the Roman Republic. The program will send a variety of loans to the university through December 31, 2017.
This new program is the first of its kind, not only between MU and the City of Rome, but in the world. Alex Barker, director of the MU Museum of Art and Archeology, said it's unusual for a country like Italy to send such a large amount of material to a foreign country for study.
"Many countries are very careful with their patrimony because museums all around the world have been taking Roman antiquities, adding them to their collections, and it's been difficult for the government of Italy to get them back," he said.
Director of the Cultural Heritage of the City of Rome Maurizio Anastasi says studying these artifacts is essential to learning the city's history.
"It's absolutely important that we acquire scientific knowledge of all of them because each fragment is fundamental to complete the mosaic of our history," he said.
Renato Miracco, Cultural Attaché of the Italian Embassy, helped bring this program to the university. He says he fought for the plan to extend beyond its original length of two years.
"And maybe my next step and my next goal will be just to extend to eight years, it's so important, it's really, really important. It's the future, it's the future of a culture," Miracco said.
Enel Green Power North America is also partnering with the City of Rome and MU for this "Hidden Treasure of Rome" project. Amee Desjourdy, the renewable energy company's vice president, introduced a clip of a documentary which will be aired in November at today's meeting.
In the documentary, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin explains the opportunity this project will bring to MU students and scholars:
"There are many ways to study the past. Many of us read history, we may go to lectures, we may hear about it. When you actually touch history, that's different. That brings the ability to really connect the current time we're at to the past."
Loftin said the results of this project will help scholars from all over the world gain knew knowledge of these kinds of artifacts.
"This is an exciting moment for us to be able to really touch and have access to very specific historical artifacts provided by the world's oldest museum," Loftin said.
The official documents were signed at the end of today's meeting. If all goes well at MU, the partners hope to expand the program to other universities and museums in the U.S