Opened in 1873, the Cast Courts display copies of some of the world's most significant works of art reproduced in plaster, electrotype, photography, and digital media. The cast collection is famous for including reproductions of Michelangelo's David, Trajan's Column, and Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, amongst many others.
The cast collection is a dramatic expression of Victorian ambition, and the strongest embodiment of the Museum's founding mission as a school of art education for both practitioners and the public. At a time when travel was difficult, the Courts brought copies of art and architecture from around the globe together under one roof, offering an encyclopaedia of international decorative styles. Collecting reproductions reached the height of popularity in the mid to late 19th century, and today new methods of digital replication encourage ongoing explorations into copying in the 21st century.