Temporary exhibitions

« Once upon a time, a bone...»

Organiser of the exhibition: Caroline Anderes Scenographist: Arno Poroli

Dates : 2006 - 2007

Crafting an exceptional material: from the bone to the object

The Roman Museum of Nyon centred its exhibition on the craft of working in bone, to which its practitioners brought their stock of know-how, a few tools and a feeling for putting animal-derived materials to rational use. Gallo-Roman bone craftsmanship drew exclusively on materials derived from the animal body – bone, ivory, teeth, antlers and tortoiseshell. The varied, ingenious and often beautiful objects made by these craftsmen were an integral part of daily life in ancient times and are associated with many of its aspects – eating, furniture, recreation, games or washing and dressing.

Typical of the Roman period was a marked interest in working with bone. The craftsman’s activity required a regular and substantial supply of raw materials in order to develop; only a very small part of an animal’s skeleton can in fact be used. Numerous relations of interdependence existed between the craftsman working in bone and other artisans, since some types of production could not stand alone: knife handles, for example, required the collaboration of a cutler or a bronze smith.

Thanks to the collaboration of a number of Swiss and French museums, visitors to the exhibition had the opportunity of rediscovering a humble and initially unprepossessing raw material, which not so long ago was still part of the daily life of our grandmothers. Indeed, in some regions of the world, Nepal for example, craftsmen still continue to work with bone today.

Publication on sale in the Museum shop (12 chf)

« Il y a un os ! Artisanat d’un matériau singulier : de l’os à l’objet ». Exposition du 6 octobre 2006 au 31 mai 2007 au Musée romain de Nyon. Textes de C. Anderes. © Musée romain, Service de la Culture, Nyon, septembre 2006, 25 p. : 54 ill. en coul., ISBN : 2-940117-04-7.


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