The exhibition “The Treasure of Antiquities. Winckelmann and the Capitoline Museum in eighteenth-century Rome “, at the Capitoline Museums from 7 December 2017 to 22 April 2018, intends to celebrate the founding father of modern archeology, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of his birth (9 December 1717) and the 250th anniversary of his death (June 8, 1768).
The great German art historian and archaeologist arrived in Rome in 1755, thanks to a scholarship awarded by the Elector of Saxony.
In the thirteen years he spent in Rome, Winckelmann defined the fundamental contents of late eighteenth-century Neoclassicism and laid the theoretical foundations of modern archeology, creating a refined system of chronological and stylistic evaluation of ancient works. His masterpiece “History of Art in Antiquity” was published in 1764 and is considered a reference point for any historical-artistic study.
The exhibition has a dual purpose: first of all to offer visitors the story of the years that led to the establishment of the Capitoline Museum, the first public museum in Europe, in December 1733; secondly, to present the Capitoline sculptures through Winckelmann’s brilliant intuitions.
The “Treasure of Antiquities” is conceived as a “widespread exhibition” and is developed in three different locations: the Exhibition Halls of Palazzo Caffarelli, the Left Ground Rooms of the Palazzo Nuovo and the Halls of the Palazzo Nuovo.
In the Caffarelli rooms, the first years of the life of the Capitoline Museum are told, through original documents, volumes and drawings, but also some aspects of Winckelmann’s Roman stay are presented.
In the earthly rooms on the left of the Palazzo Nuovo, lost exhibition settings are recreated, such as sculptures preserved in the deposits of the Capitoline Museums and the Centrale Montemartini.
Finally, a special tour has been set up in the rooms of the Palazzo Nuovo: thirty sculptures are read through the eyes of the great German scholar.
Text by Maria Teresa Tozziphotos kindly made available by the curators of the exhibition (press kit)