Perth’s plaster replica of the Parthenon Frieze has been a key attraction of the Western Australia museum since 1908. It has found a new setting as part of the new and spectacular WA Museum Boola Bardip.

The new museum complex on Francis Street that opened its doors on Saturday, features 67 pieces of the original 119 blocks of the famous frieze that was taken by Lord Elgin in the early 19th Century and which has since been housed to much controversy in the British Museum.

WA Museum Boola Bardip Exhibition Team Leader Ian Thilthorpe said that Elgin who the British ambassador to the Ottoman empire came to Athens in 1799 where he commissioned artists to sketch and take moulds of the Parthenon buildings. These moulds were used to make copies that were sold to museums and galleries until they wore out.

A section of the Parthenon Frieze which is in new museum’s Connections exhibition hall. Photo: Supplied

“The British Museum commissioned Domenico Brucciani to carve replacements. The Frieze inside the Innovations’ exhibition at the WA Museum Boola Bardip were cast from those blocks,” Mr Thilthorpe said. “The replica Parthenon Frieze was brought to WA at a time when there wasn’t a lot of access to classical artwork. The WA Museum Boola Bardip has 67 pieces. The original had 119 blocks”.

He said it took three weeks before the opening of the new museum to inspect, to inspect, document and clean the frieze.

“The Frieze was a great innovation at the time, as is the technology used to interpret it today. A digital interactive shares the story of the Parthenon Frieze, allows you to see it in colour, and even lets you colour it in yourself. A new Juliette balcony inside the Museum allows visitors to get up close to the Frieze for the first time,” Mr Thilthorpe said.

READ MORE: Perth discussion on the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Perth artist Sam Price who created the digital interactive section for the frieze said that the architecture of the new museum allowed the intergration of the old and the new.

“From the architecture to the exhibits themselves, everything is grounded in history whilst also feeling modern and accessible. We wanted to reflect this in our treatment of the Parthenon Frieze exhibit. We chose a bold and modern illustrative style for the animation, designed to breathe life and colour into the often-overlooked Frieze through projection, whilst also using grain and texture that was sympathetic to the historical canvas we were projecting on,” said Mr Price.

There are eight new permanent galleries in the WA Museum Boola Bardip. The Connections exhibition hall which includes the Frieze also houses the stories of assisted migration to Australia after the Second World War.

The Greek contribution is represented by the display of Greek Navy collar, (Service No. 70832) which belonged to Paraskevas “Peter” Georgis (on loan from Renee Doropolous) that is displayed in-front of a life size image and illustrations of a Greek navy sailor.

There are two other casts of the Parthenon Frieze in Australia: one is at the University of Melbourne and the other is housed at the Women’s College at the University of Sydney.

Admission to the WA Museum Boola Bardip  free for the first 18 months.

♦ To see what is on display, click this link to WA Museum Boola.

For more information about the frieze, click on the Hellenic Community of Western Australia’s Perth and Parthenon link.

A section of the Parthenon frieze replica includes the digital interactive image of the ancient frieze as conceived in colour by Perth artist Sam Price who said: “The exhibit gives visitors a dynamic and playful introduction to this amazing piece of history through the animation and ‘paint the Frieze’activity, that allows digital painting of the “real world” Frieze via projection and touch input, but also provides an opportunity to then dive deeper through the explore the Frieze activity, containing interactive 3D models and in-depth information about the rich history of the Frieze. Photo: Western Australian Museum