08 mar 2017 – 25 mar 2018, Rome
The Colosseum Archaeological Park opens its permanent exhibition, Il Colosseo si racconta, to the national and international public. The initiative, a collaboration with the Germanic Archaeological Institute of Rome and the Università di Roma Tre, finally endows the Colosseum with comprehensive educational installations that retrace the outstanding phases of its history, beyond the cruel gladiatorial spectacles. This exhibition follows the extraordinary success of the previous one, Colosseo. Un’icona (8 March 2017 – 25 March 2018), highly appreciated by the millions of visitors who discovered the monument’s many lives for the first time. Through the 12 arches on the 2nd level of the Colosseum, visitors can retrace the whole history of the Amphitheatre: from its construction to the early 20th century, ending with an array of images of the Colosseum as a universal icon.
The renewed museum space is a project coordinated by Rossella Rea and has been arranged by Electa with an exhibition curated by Francesco Cellini and María Margarita Segarra Lagunes. It divides the history of the monument into 7 sections and features an outstanding display of decorative marbles from the Imperial and mediaeval periods. By the Middle Ages the Colosseum had lost its original function and was variously used as a space for commercial, residential and religious activities, which transformed its bays and arches. In the 17th century, as European aristocrats and intellectuals started to flock to Italy on the Grand Tour, attracted by the fascination of its monuments, the Colosseum became an essential destination for all artists. The painter Hubert Robert left a record of this by carving his autograph on a pillar of the ambulatory.
In 1926 Mussolini had an inscription placed at the base of a Cross, which was repositioned on the arena and removed a few years later to complete the excavation of the underground levels, becoming part of the Colosseum’s permanent exhibition. A period film by the Istituto Luce records the ceremony of unveiling the plaque in the presence of Queen Elena.
The rest is contemporary history: the Colosseum has increasingly become an Italian icon, an unmissable travel destination with more than 7 million visitors from around the world each year.
And, for the first time, the Colosseum now tells its own story not only in English but also in Chinese, confirming awareness of the increasingly important tourist flows from the Far East.