The original appearance of antique art and architecture was a topic that triggered lively discussion in the nineteenth century. Excavations in the ancient sanctuaries brought marble sculptures to light bearing extensive remnants of paint. By the early twentieth century, a number of elaborate and costly publications had been produced, documenting the polychromy and proposing colour reconstructions.

In the twentieth century, abstraction in thought and form alike became prevalent in the Western world. The matter of the sensual appearance of ancient art – especially regarding the use of colour and ornament – was long factored out.

  In 1980, the archaeologist Volkmar von Graeve began gathering a team of scientists around him who, since that time, have devoted themselves to colouration and polychromy in ancient times. Extensive long-term investigations of the originals have yielded important publications, much-lauded exhibitions, international partnerships, and reports in international media.    
  The aim of the Stiftung Archäologie was to support the work carried out in these fields of research in the future.    
  The Stiftung Archäologie funded investigations of polychromy and other surface phenomena (patina, etc.), and supported the production of new reconstructions.    
  The Stiftung Archäologie provided aid for the scientific publication of studies devoted to polychromy, but also quite generally to phenomena of the perception of ancient art.    
  The Stiftung Archäologie promoted publicity work in the above-mentioned areas of research. This work included exhibitions and publications intended for a wide public (exhibition catalogues, film documentaries).    
  The government of Upper Bavaria recognized the Stiftung Archäologie as a public foundation under civil law on 21 June 2005. The foundation was non-profit; contributions and donations had been tax-deductible.    

The Stiftung Archäologie ceased operational work in 2016.

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