About the Tracking Colour Project

Reviving the colours of ancient sculpture – and architecture.

Since about 1900, many scholars have known that ancient sculpture was polychrome, ‘multicoloured’. However, in the minds of a very large majority, it has remained marble white to this day.
Over the last couple of decades, however, research on ancient sculptural polychromy has experienced a decisive breakthrough. This has come about because conservation science and the natural sciences – especially chemistry and physics – have teamed up with the humanities of classical archaeology, classical philology, ancient history and the history of art.
As insight into the use of colour in ancient sculpture increases, understanding of our classical past is profoundly changed. For most people, it is a positive, fascinating change.
And it must be kept in mind that colour is not only returning to ancient sculpture, but to ancient architecture as well, changing conceptions just as radically: the polychromy of ancient sculpture and architecture must studied as aspects of one and the same visual culture.

The aim of the Tracking Colour project is to deepen and expand our knowledge base – and to communicate what we find to the public.
To achieve this aim, we are taking a close look at the collections of ancient art from Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This website is an integrated part of that endeavour.


Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Dantes Plads 7
1556 København V

Cecilie Brøns
Senior researcher, project director

T +45 3341 8141
D +45 3341 8132