Text by Maria Teresa Tozzi. Photos courtesy of the exhibition’s organizers (Press kit)
The exhibition “Treasure of Antiquity. Winckelmann and the Capitoline Museum in Eighteenth-century Rome” (“Il Tesoro di Antichità. Wickelmann e il Museo Capitolino nella Roma del Settecento“) aims at celebrating Johann Joachim Winckelmann, founding father of modern archaeology, 300 years after his birth (9 December 1717) and 250 years after his death (8 June 1768). It is possible to visit it at the Capitoline Museums until 22nd April 2018.
The great art historian and German archaeologist arrived in Rome in 1755, thanks to a scholarship awarded by the Prince Elector of Saxony.
In the thirteen years of his stay in Rome Winckelmann defines the basic concepts of late eighteenth-century Neoclassicism and lays the theoretical foundations for modern archaeology, creating a sophisticated system of chronological and stylistic evaluation of ancient work. His masterpiece “History of Ancient Art” was published in 1764 and it is considered a point of reference for any historical artistic study.
The exhibition has two purposes: first of all, to provide the visitors with a description of the creation of the Capitoline Museum (December 1733), first public museum in Europe; secondly, to show the Capitoline sculptures through Winckelmann’s brilliant intuitions.
“Treasure of Antiquity” is a “diffused exhibition” laid out in three different places: the exhibition rooms of Palazzo Caffarelli, the ground floor rooms on the left in Palazzo Nuovo and the rooms of Palazzo Nuovo.
In the Caffarelli rooms, the first years of the Capitoline museum are explained through original documents, volumes and drawings, but several aspects about Winckelmann’s Roman period are also described.
At the ground floor rooms of Palazzo Nuovo, lost exhibition installations are created again, such as sculptures preserved in the deposits of the Capitoline Museum and the Centrale Montemartini.
You can also enjoy a little reportage available online by the RAI television news (in Italian).
Finally, a special tour has been set up in the room of Palazzo Nuovo: thirty sculptures are explained through the views of the great German scholar.