Rome: City and Empire from the British Museum Makes Exclusive North American Stop at Nashville's Frist Center

01/03/18 02:18 PM EST

Rome: City and Empire from the British Museum Makes Exclusive North American Stop at Nashville's Frist Center

February 23-May 28, 2018

PR Newswire

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 3, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Rome: City and Empire brings to Nashville more than 200 of the British Museum's most engaging and beautiful Roman objects to tell the dramatic story of how Rome grew from a cluster of small villages into a mighty empire. This marks the first time that art and artifacts from ancient Rome and its empire will be on display at the Frist Center, which is the sole North American venue on the tour.

Funerary relief of a woman (Palmyra, Syria), 200–273 CE. Limestone, 21 x 16 7/8 x 9 1/2 in. The British Museum, 1885,0418.1. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The British Museum's exceptionally broad collections—world renowned for its classical antiquities—have enabled the creation of a truly inspiring experience. Visitors will explore how the empire was won and held and learn about the rich diversity of its population. The exhibition is an accessible introduction to the Roman imperial period, yet also provides a depth of material for those with an existing interest in Roman history.

Portraits of emperors, military leaders, citizens, and mythological figures, as well as stunning examples of pottery, paintings, jewelry, coins, and other objects, span ten centuries of Roman history and invite fresh ways of looking at the past while offering points of connection between antiquity and today.

"The exhibition provides insights into the experiences of the Romans themselves, while cultivating an understanding of the dynamic relationships between the imperial government and the people it conquered," says Frist Center chief curator Mark Scala. "The range of objects, from across present-day western Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, show the diversity and interconnectedness of the vast empire."

Organized thematically, the exhibition begins with an overview of Rome's geographical and political evolution. It continues with sections that contextualize topics such as military capability, imperial architecture, religious practices, and the diverse peoples of the empire. The exhibition concludes with a presentation of art that com­memorates the dead such as burial chests, sarcophagi, and tombstones.

Along with a number of maps and photographs illustrating Rome's monuments and architectural achievements, as well as sites in which artifacts were found, the exhibition contains a digital map sequence with a timeline that details the empire's expansion. An interactive in-gallery publication titled "Fortune and Glory" will provide visitors with a role-playing narrative in the form of a laminated comic book with original illustrations by local artist and animator Michael Lapinski. Visitors will make choices that guide them from object to object. Designed to engage families and teens, the activity will enhance understanding of daily life in ancient Rome.

"The artifacts in this exhibition connect us to this bygone civilization," says Scala. "We share with its people an appreciation for art as a means of documenting reality, representing ideals, memorializing the past, and creating beauty on both a grand and intimate scale."

Object highlights, many of which have never been seen outside of the British Museum, include the following:

  1. A monumental marble statue of a Roman magistrate that required 200 hours of conservation.
  2. A bronze parade helmet considered to be one of the finest cavalry masks in existence.
  3. A funerary relief from Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where monuments were razed by Islamic State militants in 2015.  
  4. One of the few depictions of women gladiators in existence. The plaque commemorates Amazon and Achillia gaining freedom after their successful careers.

Public Programs

Friday, February 23                                                 
Curator's Perspective:
The Reach of Rome—Then and Now presented by Dr. Sam Moorhead, Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins, The British Museum
6:30 p.m.                                                                          
Frist Center Auditorium                                             
Free; first come, first seated                                     

The art, culture, and politics of the Roman Empire have made a lasting impact around the world. In this lecture, Dr. Sam Moorhead, a curator of Rome: City and Empire, examines Rome's influence through the lens of the exhibition, highlighting key works and discussing their artistic value and historical significance. Whether you have a long-standing interest in antiquities or are encountering ancient Rome for the first time, join us to learn more about this fascinating and important civilization.

Exhibition Credit

The presentation of this exhibition is a collaboration between the British Museum and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

Sponsor Acknowledgment

Platinum Sponsor: HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health

Hospitality Sponsor: Union Station Hotel

This exhibition is supported in part by the 2018 Frist Gala Patrons and the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Connect with us!  #FristRome

About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways.  Additional information is available by calling 615.244.3340 or by visiting fristcenter.org.

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