In the 19th century, reproductions of great works of sculpture and architecture were thought crucial for the training of artists and craftsmen. The pieces were regarded as ‘superior to drawings’, providing a fascinating glimpse into the marvels of European sculpture and giving an impression of scale and three-dimensional qualities that no photograph can convey. Many arts and crafts schools were later converted into museums, with the result that the cast collections are now mostly in the hands of museums.
In France, the famous architect and author Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) who restored many prominent medieval landmarks, proposed that the Palais de Trocadero be transformed into a museum of French monuments, displaying models of architecture and sculpture from landmarks around France. This idea was accepted and The National Museum of French Monuments opened in 1882 and gave plaster casts the importance of museum pieces.