Take a virtual gallery tour of Classic Black’s unforgettable Sculpture Hall

With this virtual gallery tour, step into the first of three rooms in The Mint Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries, on view at Mint Museum Randolph. If you missed it before we had to close our doors for COVID-19, put it at the top of your list for when we re-open. The exhibition is visual feast: Not only is it the first exhibition in the world to focus on black basalt sculpture, but the presentation is completely contemporary. The Mint worked with the local muralist and street artist known as Owl to help design the spaces with a graphic language that complements the stunning works.

The exhibition is divided into three rooms: First, you enter the Sculpture Hall. With arresting shades of pink and stunning arches, the room is full of sculptures that call to mind figures of antiquity. Privileged young men in 18th-century England (the era of Josiah Wedgwood), would often embark on a Grand Tour, or an extended trip through Europe, especially Italy. There, they would visit historical and cultural sites they’d studied in their classical education and see works such as Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of Bacchus at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and the bust of Alexander at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.

The travelers would often purchase antique marble sculptures to bring home or commission copies, both of which would then be displayed proudly in their private residences. Wedgwood used black basalt to create reduced-size (and more affordable) replicas of many of the iconic works, a move that showed his brilliance as a marketer.