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THE COST OF A SMALL MUSEUM.
[Illustration: Mr. A.A. Carey’s Cambridge, Mass. Sturgis & Brigham Archts.]
More than once we have endeavored to impress upon our readers the importance of collections of casts and other art reproductions as factors in popular education. It is only through these that the body of our people can ever hope to become familiar with the great masterpieces of European galleries, which have had so much effect upon the taste of the people among whom they exist, and might do a similar good work in this country were they only brought within reach. Doubtless there are many who join us in the wish that not only every large, but every small city might have its gallery of reproductions as well as its public library—a gallery in which children could grow up familiar with the noblest productions of Greece and Italy, in which the laborer could pass some of his holiday hours, and in which the mechanic could find the stimulus to make his own work beautiful as well as good. But the principal reason why such collections are not more numerous is probably that people have an exaggerated idea of their cost, and, among those who might best afford this, there are doubts as to whether an undertaking of the kind would be appreciated in any but the large cities.
Thanks to the liberality of Mr. W.A. Slater, the experiment has been tried in Norwich, Conn., and the results of the first year of the Slater Memorial Museum in attracting and holding popular interest have far exceeded the anticipations of its founder and his advisers. As it has been Mr. Slater’s desire that the museum established by him should serve not only to educate his townsmen, but also to stimulate others who had the means to follow his example in other parts of the country, he has given us permission to make public the cost of his collections, which, we doubt not, will be a revelation to many. In August of last year we gave a long description of the Slater Memorial Museum, not then quite completed, from which it was evident that within the lines laid down by Mr. Slater, by which it was determined that the collection should contain only reproductions, and no original works, there were no restrictions as to expense. The works selected were to be the best of their kind, and were to be set up and arranged in the most effective manner possible. The number of objects was to be limited only by the size of the building.
The useful little catalogue of the casts in the Museum, prepared by Mr. H.W. Kent, the curator, to whom we are indebted for the figures which we shall quote, shows 124 numbers in the Greek and Roman section, and 103 in that of the Renaissance. Among these are some of the largest casts made, such as the selection from the Pergamon reliefs, the Nike of Samothrace and the Font of Siena. They were all made expressly for the Museum, and imported from London, Paris, Berlin,