Skip to content (press enter)
Loading Events

The world’s most visited monument was recounted for the first time in a major exhibition that continued well beyond its most famous period, that of the gladiatorial games. It retraced the long and intense life and changes to the building through the centuries by means of images and objects, for a total of some 100 exhibits. From the lively and little-known commercial, residential and religious activity that characterised the Colosseum in the Middle Ages, faithfully reconstructed by recent acquisitions from excavations and restoration work, to the fascination that it exerted over the great architects and painters of the Renaissance, its emergence in the 18th century as a favoured destination on the Gran Tour for poets, writers and painters of views to a place of Romantic fascination, until finally, with the advent of fascism, the Colosseum once again became, as in ancient times, an ideological proscenium of power. The event also revealed how a new myth of the Colosseum began to be created in the post-war period: the Flavian Amphitheatre entered the cinema with sword-and-sandal movies and the masterpieces of Italian Neorealism, while Pop Art in Rome consecrated it as an icon, which it continues to be seamlessly in the present. Contemporary art recounts the monument, the emblem of the city and Italy through paintings, installations, performances, videos and photos by internationally renowned artists. The cinema also celebrates the Colosseum in a series of unforgettable masterpieces, a rich cinematic anthology from the precious archives of the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà projected onto the vaults throughout the exhibition: from Quo Vadis? by Enrico Guazzoni to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, William Wyler’s Roman Holiday, Bernardo Bertolucci’s La Commare secca, Steno’s Un americano a Roma, Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza and Gabriele Mainetti’s Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot.


The exhibition is accompanied by the monograph Colosseum, edited by Rossella Rea, Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani and Serena Romano, which brings together numerous of scholarly contributions by the most authoritative specialists, composing an up-to-date and definitive picture of the long and stratified post-ancient history of the Flavian Amphitheatre.

Nunzio Giustozzi’s The Colosseum Book was also published for the occasion. The volume includes a large and original collection of images and literary passages arranged in eloquent associations and presents numerous little-known or even previously unpublished materials read in continuous and coherent relation to the Colosseum. This makes it an outstanding mirror of the history of the city and the world, an inexhaustible source of inspiration for writers, artists, filmmakers to this day, with insights into the perception of the monument in the visual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries (comics, movies, videogames and advertising).