Beyond the Grave: Death in Ancient Times

09 May 2018

Death may be inevitable, but our feelings and beliefs about it are often complex and ambiguous. This is as true now as it was in ancient times, according to the University of Canterbury Teece Museum curator, Terri Elder.

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    The Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities’ new exhibition Beyond the Grave: Death in Ancient Times explores how the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed death, how they buried and remembered their dead, and what they believed about an afterlife.

Death may be inevitable, but our feelings and beliefs about it are often complex and ambiguous. This is as true now as it was in ancient times, according to the University of Canterbury Teece Museum curator, Terri Elder.

The Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities’ new exhibition Beyond the Grave: Death in Ancient Times explores how the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed death, how they buried and remembered their dead, and what they believed about an afterlife.

“Despite the distance of time, it is possible to catch a glimpse of what death meant for ordinary Greeks and Romans through the artefacts they left behind,” Ms Elder says.

Beyond the Grave includes poignant inscriptions on tombstones, dramatic scenes in plays, carefully sculpted memorials, and detailed images of funeral rites painted on vases.

“All these point to the fact that in ancient times, as now, how we approach the subject of death can reveal a great deal about what each of our cultures values most about life.”

The exhibition is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-3pm until 24 February 2019.

The Museum’s education programme, which is sponsored by the UC Foundation, is already taking bookings. This free service for primary and secondary school classes draws in hundreds of children each year.

Primary and secondary school students from 15 Canterbury schools visited the Teece Museum during 2017, while hundreds of visitors were part of community tours, and over 280 UC students accessed the collection through tutorials and internships at the museum. Total visitor numbers for the museum stand at over 15,300.

Ms Elder says the vision of the museum is to provide teaching, study and research opportunities, and, with the support of donations from UC Foundation, this is possible at no cost.

“Without the generous support of our donors through the UC Foundation it would not be possible to deliver the calibre of exhibitions and educational outreach activities we offer to the wider Canterbury community,” she says.

Hands-on experiences are also made possible through UC Foundation funding. School groups in particular have benefited from presentations tailored to specific learning objectives from the curriculum and had the opportunity to access and handle replica and original artefacts.

“The hands-on experiences we are able to provide really enhance the learning for those that take part,” Ms Elder says.

The Teece Museum’s new exhibition Beyond the Grave: Death in Ancient Times

When: Exhibition on now until 24 February 2019, open to the public Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-3pm (Available by appointment Monday & Tuesday, 9am-3pm, for school and group visits.)
Where: Level 1, UC Arts Location, The Arts Centre of Christchurch, 3 Hereford Street, Christchurch.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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