Sculpting time: museum models and the representation of changing landscapes
Models of landscapes and buildings have long allowed architects to project their ideas about the future, Grand tourists to have miniatures of their favourite ruins and museums to assist their visitors to visualise spaces which are either geographically or chronologically distant. Such models can test an invisible future or past construction in a tangible way. However, these snapshots can make a landscape seem static. Like the artefacts which have been accessioned into collections whose history now appears to have stopped, models that depict ancient landscapes in their current modern state encourage the viewer to think that the spaces are also now frozen forever. In this paper I argue that since modern heritage practice is just another step in a long history of ideas and ancient landscapes are not likely to stay the same, museum architectural models also ought to become changeable objects, even if they become old enough to be viewed as artefacts in their own right. Using examples of models of the Athenian acropolis from different museums, I argue that since new technologies and methods can allow for more ease and speed in architectural modelling, future curators could alter museum models to reflect the changing state of the ancient landscape. Consequently, these museum pieces could one day depict history as a process rather than a snapshot and could themselves have as layered a history as the sites they represent.