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Library Friezes

Hidden in plain view in the Kellogg-Hubbard Library is an unusual treasure: reproductions of three separate friezes that have been here since 1953. They represent two landmark periods in European History—ancient Greece and the Italian Renaissance—that contributed to the artistic, institutional, and cultural traditions in contemporary Western society. Like many works of art, they are portals for understanding and comparing how music, architecture, rituals, and institutions shaped societies far removed from us and our own society in our own day.

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The friezes are located on all three floors of the Library:

in the Main Street Entrance; in the stairwell to the children’s library; in the basement over the fireplace; and primarily on the second level in the KHL Fiction Room.

A frieze is a continuous band of ornamental and figurative low-relief sculpture. It is a medium between a flat two-dimensional representation (such as a painting) and a freestanding three-dimensional representation (such as a statue). They are often seen as ornaments on the outside of a building.

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The most extensive set of panels in the library, copies of the best-preserved panels of the frieze from the Parthenon in Athens, Greece (pictured above), are one of the best known examples.

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The other two friezes are copies of panels that were part of organ and choir galleries, called cantoria, sculpted by Luca della Robbia and Donatello, for the Cathedral at Florence.

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The friezes at the Library are plaster casts made as reproductions from the originals, sold for personal art collections.

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