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The cast collection was begun in 1864 and has more than 1,000 items. It covers the major periods in the history of art from antiquity to the 20th century.

The first pieces were used as teaching materials for the first course in Christian archaeology. The collection grew further after the First World War at the instigation of Prof. Fernand Mainz, and then of Prof. Jacques Lavalleye in the late 50s, with casts of Greek and Roman, medieval and Renaissance sculptures. The entire collection was divided between UCL and KUL in 1974 when the two universities separated.