The paper presents the conception and art historical conclusions of the exhibition entitled Knowledge in Plaster Casts. The former cast collection of the Budapest Metropolitan Industrial Drawing School (1886–1945) held in FUGA Budapest Center of Architecture on 4–25 October 2017.
The three groups of exhibits comprised original 19–20th century plaster casts, 18–19th century drawings from casts, and reproduced photos from the catalogue of the casting workshop of the Hungarian National Royal Higher School of Architecture dated 1904. As the price list illustrations revealed, late 19th–early 20th century cast collections for the purpose of education were visual encyclopaedias of the educational and cultural ideals of the age. Thematically, the replicas of pattern and sculpture conveyed a broad scale of mythological knowledge, culture historical information via notable figures of literature and history, as well as botanic, anatomical and geometric knowledge. The compilation of a cast collection required broad historical, culture historical and professional expertise, and the casting workshops and the cast catalogues they published mediated this common knowledge.
The exhibition and the preceding elaboration of the collection provided further art historical conclusions, of which the paper embarks on the relationship between original and copy apropos a plaster paraphrase of a 12th century stone carving from Saint Denis.