This week’s most popular tweet was the word nasothek, defined as “a collection of the broken noses of statues and busts”.
Derived from the Latin for “nose”, nasus, plus the Greek theke, meaning “repository” or “container”, use of the word nasothek is credited to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum in Copenhagen, whose collection of broken noses (so to speak) is out on public display—and is, incidentally, where the picture accompanying our tweet was taken.
But the items in the Ny Carlsberg collection are not impossibly ancient broken antiquities. In fact, they’re a lot more modern than they might first appear.
In the past, a trend existed for restoring broken sculptures to their former glory by attaching modern replicas of any missing appendages—noses, eyes, ears, chins, fingers, and any other anatomical extremity that was liable to fall off. The mind boggles...
But over time that trend reversed, so that nowadays complete authenticity is the key to any museum collection. The Ny Carlsberg ultimately opted to “de-restore” their Greek and Roman statuary, breaking off any modern plaster additions in the interests of keeping their displays as original and as authentic as possible. And with dozens of broken noses now on their hands, the museum chose to display them all in a nasothek as a visual reminder of how the trend for art restoration has changed.