How did Rome, a modest city in Latium, become the capital of a gigantic empire, unifying the shores of the Mediterranean and of western Europe under the figure of the Emperor? What did it mean to be part of the Empire? How was everyday life organised? During their temporary closure at the Louvre, the museum’s Roman rooms are taking up residence in the Louvre-Lens. This is the first time since the Second World War that this many masterpieces from the Roman collections – more than 300 – have been displayed together outside the Louvre.
Featuring more than 400 works, this exhibition offers an exceptional retrospective of Roman civilization, from the middle of the republican era (2nd century BC) to the end of the Roman Empire’s zenith (c. 300 AD). The exhibition offers an opportunity to discover Roman civilization through the principal factors that shaped Rome and contributed to its grandeur. It recounts the history, the city, the Empire and its art.
Few museums outside Italy possess a collection of antiquities that offers such a broad overview of Roman art. In order to situate Rome’s influence in the regional context of the Louvre-Lens, the exhibition also features vestiges of cities in Belgian Gaul. And it also draws on the collections of the museums of the Hauts-de-France. In many regions, the artistic models of Roman civilization mingled with other traditions. In this open society, art was the product both of official commissions and popular manifestations. This artistic heterogeneity reflects the great social, cultural and geographical diversity of an empire that extended from western Europe to the Near East, and whose history spanned more than three centuries.
Cécile Giroire, chief heritage curator, director of the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities at the Musée du Louvre
Martin Szewczyk, heritage curator, Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities at the Musée du Louvre
Assisted by Florence Specque and Agnès Scherer, researchers in the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, at the Musée du Louvre
Exhibition design: Mathis Boucher, architect and exhibition designer, Musée du Louvre-Lens