Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Romans Are Coming!

There are two knockout Roman exhibitions opening in the months to come, and once again I wish Floo Powder were real so I could take my students from my Roman Art class this fall. From July 24 to October 26, visitors to London can enjoy "Hadrian: Empire and Conflict" at the British Museum (catch a preview at www.britishmuseum.org). About 180 objects will be in this show, including some from recent excavations at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, just outside Rome. Hadrian is one of the most fascinating of the Roman emperors: a strong military leader, but also a deeply cultured philhellene and admirer of architecture. (He commissioned the Pantheon in Rome and numerous buildings in Greece as well.) The exhibit will explore his military career as well as his private life.

It's not up on the National Gallery of Art (Washington) website yet for some odd reason, but the NGA is supposed to be hosting "Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples" from October 19 to March 22; the show will then move to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from May 3 to October 4, 2009. The guest curator of the Pompeii show is a scholar whose work I and just about any scholar of classical art know very well: Carol Mattusch, particularly renowned for her groundbreaking research on Greek and Roman bronze sculpture. This too promises to be a first-rate exhibition. Both it and the Hadrian exhibit will have published catalogues.

Thanks to "Gladiator" and now the HBO series "Rome," the Romans get more press nowadays in popular culture than they have for a long time. And I LOVE that!

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