A Collection of Noses is On Display in Copenhagen


Image Credit:Diagram Lajard via Wikipedia Commons // CC0 1.0

In addition to the collections of ancient Mediterranean art, 19th century Danish and French sculptures, and special exhibitions, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen has an unusual display case. Behind the glass are 100 plaster noses lined up in precise rows, forming what the museum refers to as the Nasothek.

The noses weren't crafted for this purpose, though the Nasothek display could blend in at a modern art museum. Rather, the noses come from some of the Glyptotek’s ancient Greek and Roman sculptures whose white marble noses were replaced by conservators after their originals fell off.

According to Atlas Obscura, "Particularly in the 19th century, it had become a common practice among conservators to apply a facsimiles of the broken element, so as to re-complete what had been lost."

The practice has become less common, not to mention frowned upon, and the Glyptotek has since removed the replacement extremities in favor of restoring authenticity.

Once the noses were removed, the museum needed to decide what to do with them. Instead of throwing them out or tucking them away and pretending they didn’t happen, they created the Nasothek, "which takes its name from the Latin for 'nose' and Greek for 'container.'"

For those of us stuck stateside, you can see a similar work of nose restoration the next time you visit the Statue of Liberty. In 1983, her nose was restored after the tip eroded due to exposure to salty wind. A number of copper nose impressions were needed, but one nose-tip remained unused. In 2010, the New York auction house Guernsey’s attempted to auction it off, but there were no takers.  

[h/t Atlas Obscura]