Decontextualization and the Search for Origins: A Persian Architectural Fragment in the Ackland Art Museum


The Ackland Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina acquired a stone fragment from Mr. and Mrs. Osbourne Hauge in 1998. This piece has been referred to since as a “Stone Balustrade with Animal and Vegetal Decoration” by the museum. The museum catalogue emphasizes the aesthetic qualities of the piece rather than its nature as an architectural fragment due to a lack of information about the object’s origins. In order to move beyond the lost provenance of the object, I will analyze its relation to similar fragments in the Metropolitan Museum, Cleveland Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the David Collection in Copenhagen. I will incorporate fragments from the Hegmataneh Hill Museum (in Hamadan, Iran) in order to expand the corpus of known fragments beyond Euro-American collections. This thesis will examine these objects in relation to their current contexts and as a network of pieces rather than decontextualized fragments.Master of Art

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