What does the Ronald Tutor Campus Center have in common with the Musée du Louvre? More than you might think.
Stephen Dart, G. Michael Dart and Jane Dart Tucker have donated the “Dart Aphrodite” — a Greco-Roman marble sculpture of the goddess’ head that dates between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. — to the Archaeological Research Center at USC. Fortunately, the center is sharing the sculpture with the campus community. Those walking down a hallway on the second floor of the Tutor Campus Center can view the “Dart Aphrodite,” a close cousin of a sculpture in the world’s most famous museum.
According to Cindy Robinson, the educational program coordinator for the Tutor Campus Center, USC College art history professor John Pollini inspired the donation by writing a paper on the “Dart Aphrodite” a decade ago.
“When Jane Dart, the owner of the ‘Dart Aphrodite,’ passed away about a year ago, one of her sons remembered John’s essay and said, ‘I would like to give it to USC,’ ” Robinson said.
The “Dart Aphrodite” is considered an Arles-type depiction of the goddess because of its proportions, rounded features, chignon with hair band and graceful turn of the head.
The Louvre’s similar full-bodied Aphrodite statue was discovered in Arles, France, in 1651. Aside from the statue in the Louvre, the “Dart Aphrodite” — although missing its body — is the only known Arles type marble head in existence.
The Archaeological Research Center housed at USC College permanently loaned the rare piece through the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Art and Trojan Traditions program, which supports exhibitions and commissions for the new building. The “Dart Aphrodite” is displayed at the top of the Trojan Family Room staircase near the Admission Center on the second floor.
“Typically this would end up in the archives where archaeology students and maybe a select few art history students would get to see it — only a handful of people on a regular basis,” Robinson said. “Since we have this great art program at the Campus Center, we can display it in public and every visitor, every student and every alumnus can get a chance to see it.”
Robinson hopes that the display of the rare artifact will inspire additional research about the “Dart Aphrodite” among students.
“Not only do we have the chance for people to see an ancient historical artifact that is beautiful, but art history and archeology students or any students can research this in person,” Robinson said. “Imagine being able to write an essay on something like this — something one of a kind.”
Patrick Bailey, associate dean and executive director of Student Life and Involvement, is glad that “Dart Aphrodite” has found a home in the Tutor Campus Center.
“We are thrilled to share the news of yet another important art installation in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center,” Bailey said. “The Art and Trojan Traditions collection is already very dynamic and eclectic, and it will only continue to grow and evolve.”