Inside the Collection

The Intern and the Antiquities: Ancient Greece (part one)

Curatorial Intern Matthew Sawina
Photography by Julia Foong © Powerhouse Museum, all rights reserved

Did you know the Powerhouse Museum has a strong collection of Greek antiquities dating as far back as 3000 years? Some of you may remember a number of these from our exhibition ‘1000 Years of the Olympic Games: treasures of Ancient Greece’ in 2000. A few years later, we also hosted ‘Greek Treasures: from the Benaki Museum in Athens’.

We currently have an Intern with us from the United States working on our collection of Greek antiquities. In this post, he shares with us a little about his personal story and the nature of the project he is working on:

I am a Curatorial Intern at the Powerhouse Museum from the United States and my name is Matthew Sawina. For the past few months, I have been working with 20 of the Museum’s Greek ceramic vessels from antiquity ranging from an 8th century B.C. Corinthian aryballos to a 4th century B.C. Sicilian red-figure lekanis with cover. I have been undertaking a myriad of tasks, under the supervision of Curator, Dr Paul Donnelly, including researching and writing about each of the vessels and improving their documentation for the web.

I know what you are thinking, how did an American end up at the Powerhouse Museum in Australia? There is a quote that I go by – “Don’t tell me what a man knows; tell me where a man has been” -Anonymous. This quote might seem like quite the paradox coming from a guy pursuing a career in academia and museums, which requires the never ending pursuit of knowledge (all the while being an American!), but I digress. To me, the quote encapsulates the never ending pursuit of knowledge that we all seek in this wondrous and exciting world that still holds for us so many secrets. Wouldn’t you agree?

To follow the quote and, ultimately the quest, a Bachelors degree (I have a BA majoring in Ancient Greek History) and living only in the United States, simply put, is not enough! Along my quest, which is still in its infant stage, I have met many different people from all cultures and ethnicities, thus growing my knowledge, and it has led me to live in multiple countries – three continents and two hemispheres. But, there is more to come…

So, this is how I ended up at the University of Sydney pursuing a Master of Museum Studies. My internship at the Powerhouse Museum is a component of this degree (we have to do two internships altogether – my first internship was conducted in the Registration Department of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago).

At the Powerhouse Museum, I get the joy of coming in and working with objects many centuries old. I like to compare the Museum to a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’ll get until you open the box up. Each and every object has its unique story to reveal and I have had the pleasure to help unravel the stories of some objects for which I will be sharing with you in a series of posts over the coming weeks. These include a black-painted Campanian askos that has original finger print marks around its rim, a mis-fired Sicilian red-figure lekanis, and an intriguing Corinthian aryballos.

Matthew Sawina
Museum Studies Intern Student

One response to “The Intern and the Antiquities: Ancient Greece (part one)

  • Matt, it’s great to see you doing what you want to do. Keep traveling, exploring, and working hard.

    Health and happiness.

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