Stone: Making and Breaking Legacies

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What happens when the unbreakable breaks?

Throughout art museums around the world, you’ll find ancient stone statues of rulers and marble monuments immortalizing noblemen. These objects were made to survive decay and destruction, to remain intact and whole. But from the moment that stone is extracted from the earth, it is bound to become a more fragmented version of itself–chiseled, chipped, and sometimes shattered over time. 

In this episode, we examine the many ways that stone breaks. How can a statue’s cracks and cavities tell a more complex story of our humanity?


Jack Soultanian, Conservator, Objects Conservation, The Met

Carolyn Riccardelli, Conservator, Objects Conservation, The Met

Robert Macfarlane, nature writer and mountaineer

Erhan Tamur, former Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, The Met

Sarah Graff, Curator, Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Met

Featured artworks:

Tullio Lombardo, Adam, ca. 1490–95: 

Statues of Gudea, Neo-Sumerian, ca. 2120–2090 BCE:

For a transcript of the episode and more information, visit


Immaterial is produced by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Magnificent Noise and hosted by Camille Dungy.

Production staff includes Salman Ahad Khan, Ann Collins, Samantha Henig, Eric Nuzum, Emma Vecchione, Sarah Wambold, and Jamie York. Additional staff includes Julia Bordelon, Skyla Choi, Maria Kozanecka, and Rachel Smith.

Sound design by Ariana Martinez and Kristin Muller.
Original music by Austin Fisher.
Fact-checking by Mary Mathis and Claire Hyman.

Immaterial is made possible by Dasha Zhukova Niarchos. Additional support is provided by the Zodiac Fund.

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  1. Immaterial: 5,000 Years of Art, One Material at a Time

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Stories of the materials used in making art are often as thought-provoking and illuminating as the o 
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