Gift will support classics students as they excavate, design museum exhibitions in Italy

| Tue, 11/16/21
Classics student Jamie Fontana, archaeologist Nóra Marosi, classics student Nina Perdomo, and faculty Nancy de Grummond at Fontana's and Perdomo's museum exhibition in the Palazzo Bagnesi. Courtesy photo.
Classics student Jamie Fontana, archaeologist Nóra Marosi, classics student Nina Perdomo, and Dr. Nancy de Grummond at Fontana and Perdomo's museum exhibition in the Palazzo Bagnesi in June 2021. Courtesy photo.

A new gift by longtime Florida State University donors is set to provide annual funding for two students from the university’s Department of Classics to study in Italy during upcoming summer breaks.

Students will use the funds, given in the name of Suzanne Bucher and the late Robert Loewenstein, to learn, work, and excavate each summer in Cetamura del Chianti, Italy, which was home to Etruscans, Romans and Italians during the Middle Ages.

The Bucher-Loewenstein Museum Internship Award in Classical Archaeology is made possible through Bucher and Loewenstein’s five-year stock pledge totaling $100,000, as well as FSU International Program’s Study Abroad Program in Florence and ongoing excavations in Cetamura. This gift covers the $8,085 program expense for each scholar and applications for the 2022 award are open through Dec. 15.

During the internship, students visit and evaluate renowned Florence museums and participate in planning the opening of a museum for Cetamura: The Museo Civico alle Origini del Chianti, located in the center of Gaiole in the Tuscany region, said Nancy de Grummond, distinguished research professor of classics and director of excavations and research at Cetamura del Chianti.

FSU has provided students opportunities to study through this program for more than 40 years. In 2021, archaeology students Jamie Fontana and Nina Perdomo attended the FSU Florence program and created an exhibition on Cetamura supported by scholarships provided by Rodney Reeves, an FSU alumnus and former College of Medicine and College of Education researcher now on a courtesy appointment with the Department of Classics. Under the new Bucher-Loewenstein Internship, students excavate at the Cetamura site for four weeks, handling and studying newly unearthed artifacts, in addition to designing and mounting an exhibition of the pieces at the Fine Arts Gallery of the Palazzo Bagnesi in Florence.

"Nina Perdomo presenting at the “Coins, Pots, and a Castle at Cetamura del Chianti" exhibition. Courtesy photo."
Classics student Nina Perdomo presenting at the "Coins, Pots, and a Castle at Cetamura Del Chianti" exhibition in June 2021. Courtesy photo.

“Students are also trained to give presentations on the excavation site and museums, and the comprehensive opportunities are key for those seeking careers in museum and heritage studies,” de Grummond said.

While the internship wasn’t officially established until recently, Bucher has been giving to the department for years. The first undergraduate recipient of a Bucher-Loewenstein gift, Cheyenne Tempest, received funding in 2014 to excavate at Cetamura. After graduating from FSU in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in classical archaeology and anthropology, she worked for archaeological firm PaleoWest and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in anthropology and archaeology at the University of Colorado in Denver.

“This funding allowed me to put years of education into practice and achieve a lifelong goal and dream: I got to be an archaeologist,” Tempest said. “The experience I gained at Cetamura greatly prepared me for my work in archaeology, and without the support of this gift from Suzanne, my participation would not have been possible. I will forever be thankful for their contributions and the impact they had on me as a first-generation college graduate.”

By sponsoring students through the Cetamura program, which she began in 2014, Bucher hopes that future archaeologists will continue to ask questions about objects and materials of the past, as these artifacts inform our understanding of the past as well as inspire the present.

“Through Suzanne’s gift, her vision and support for the arts is transmitted to students who will take their place in a cultural context that needs their new energy and new perspectives,” said de Grummond. “For some students, this funding makes all the difference.”

Bucher has spent her life creating art and interacts with the world by questioning how and why it was made. Her art expresses the importance of understanding our past to understand our future, a notion that is echoed in her sponsorship of students to this program. Lowenstein, an astrophysicist, observed and recorded the history of the early universe like an archaeologist of ancient light. Bucher and Loewenstein shared many interests, including their love for art, nature and travel.

Suzanne Bucher and Bob Loewenstein. Courtesy photo. 

“My husband and I spent our careers learning from the past and documenting this knowledge for the future, so being able to support students in this way means a great deal,” Bucher said.

De Grummond and Bucher first met many years ago at a family reunion, although they have no blood relations, and bonded over shared interests in the arts and travel, in particular Lowenstein’s expeditions to the South Pole. The last major trip Bucher and Loewenstein took together was in 2014 to visit Cetamura, as Loewenstein had always hoped to visit de Grummond at her research site. In 2017, Bucher worked as a volunteer and assisted de Grummond in designing a show on Cetamura presented at the National Archaeological Museum in Florence.

“The first time I encountered Nancy’s work, as an artist, I was fascinated. Listening to Nancy describe her summer internship program, I knew that I wanted to be a part of facilitating that work,” Bucher said. “I have visited the Cetamura site twice now, and the intense, focused, and stimulating interaction of all involved is a joy to witness and is an experience that should be granted to as many students, as often, and in as many disciplines as possible.”

To learn more about the Bucher-Loewenstein Museum Internship Award in Classical Archaeology and submit an application, visit the Cetamura website or contact Nancy de Grummond.