The Frist Center in Nashville is the only North American venue on a tour of more than 200 of the British Museum’s most engaging and beautiful Roman objects.

Rome: City and Empire runs from Feb. 23 to May 28, 2018 at the Frist, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville.

The objects in the exhibition tell the dramatic story of how Rome grew from a cluster of small villages into a mighty empire.


Marble statue head of Augustus (Rome, Italy), 30–25 BCE. © The Trustees of the British Museum

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.”

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.


Funerary relief of a woman (Palmyra,
Syria), 200–273 CE. Limestone. Monuments in Palmyra were razed by ISIS in 2015. © The Trustees of
the British Museum

The exhibition contains a digital map sequence with a timeline that details the empire’s expansion, and an interactive in-gallery publication titled “Fortune and
Glory” that 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.