Ugly Object of the Month — July 2016

BY SUZANNE DAVIS, Curator for Conservation, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Glazed clay lamp. Roman period. Cologne. 2nd–4th century AD. KM 1698.

It’s Halloween in July! This special Kelsey object is ugly AND spooky. It’s a ceramic lamp with the top molded to look like an actor’s mask. I don’t have much more to say about this — it’s just creepy and cool. Can you imagine how it would look with a burning wick sticking out of the mouth?

This lamp was off view for several months while we hosted the special exhibition Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero, but now you can see it again! And you should! It’s so small that it’s easy to overlook, so make a special effort to find it. It’s worth it. It’s on the second floor in the “Gaul” case, in the gallery that explores the Roman provinces. See the map below.

Last but not least — thanks to our devoted reader Kate Larson, at the Corning Museum of Glass — we discovered that Ugly Object of the Month has a cousin on the University College London Museums and Collections Blog: Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month! While you’re over there looking at the fossily fish, you can also check out some great conservation posts, many written by my grad-school pal Susi Pancaldo. Enjoy!


2nd floor w lamp

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