From the Director


It’s impossible for me to remember when I was not enchanted by some aspect of the Roman Empire. In school, there was the study of literature, Latin, philosophy, and civics. Once my love of Italian design and art developed, the medieval proverb “all roads lead to Rome” became less about Roman roads and more about the magical thinking that would provide me with a semester in Italy. It is, therefore, a personal and professional pleasure that the Spring 2018 exhibition in the Ingram Gallery is presenting, for the first time at the Frist, art and artifacts from ancient Rome and its empire, including monumental, decorative, commemorative, and utilitarian objects.

Rome: City and Empire is our first collaboration with the British Museum, which graciously agreed to lend to the Frist Art Museum treasures that until now had never traveled to the United States. The exhibition, with more than two hundred works in various mediums, tells the story of one of the world’s most fascinating civilizations. Art historians and archaeologists may have slightly different values when viewing ancient objects, with connoisseurs prioritizing aesthetics and those who excavate objects in the field being more interested in their cultural significance, but both are concerned with protecting our collective heritage.

Why should we care about antiquities? Did you know that in addition to their connection to history and their power to delight, they can become pawns in international crime? In the twenty-first century, more and more of the world’s ancient treasures are at risk. Destroyed antiquities are lost forever. The FBI estimates that art and cultural property crime—including looting from archaeological sites—generates between 4 and 7 billion dollars annually, which in turn can be used to fund future wars and terrorism. Please join us to learn more about the enduring value of antiquities and their role in Roman lives.

Susan H. Edwards, PhD
Executive Director and CEO


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