Mosaics to highlight Rome exhibit
By Meredith Moss
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This Rome exhibit wasn’t built in a day.
In fact, The Dayton Art Institute’s first major exhibition on ancient Rome has been in the works since 2005 when Dr. Sally Struthers, a dean at Sinclair Community College, was first approached to serve as guest curator for a collection that would transport visitors back to the ancient Roman Empire.
“The Roman World: Religions and Everyday Life” officially opens to the public Saturday, with a series of preview openings slated this week for the press and DAI members.
“I like this whole idea of visual motifs that meant different things to different religions in the Roman world,” says Struthers, who delights in pointing out specific symbols — the peacock, the palm leaf, the shell, the fish — that were adapted and used in ancient times by Polytheism, Judaism and Christianity.
The showcase of the exhibition is a group of colorful mosaic panels that were once part of a synagogue floor discovered in North Africa.
In order to give visitors a better appreciation of the art, the entire mosaic floor has been re-created, with the original mosaics positioned precisely where they would have been originally.
That portion of the exhibit, titled “Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire,” is on loan from the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Curator Edward Bleiberg, who wrote the catalog that will be sold in conjunction with the show, will come to Dayton for a lecture Sept. 30. Ancient meets modern when Struthers and Bleiberg provide online streaming audio commentary for the exhibit and a podcast that DAI guests can download and play as they tour it.
Struthers, who visited Rome recently to photograph ancient sites for the exhibit, also has gathered favorite works from other museums dating from fifth century B.C. to the seventh century A.D. and beyond: ancient sculptures of the gods, gold jewelry, coins, vases of Roman glass and textiles so sensitive to light that DAI patrons will lift a protective cloth to view them.
The museum has developed a variety of special programs to complement “The Roman World.” Kids will “Meet the Romans” at the Experiencenter, teachers can request learning guides, and there are a number of lectures and special programs.
How to go
WHAT: “The Roman World: Religions and Everyday Life” featuring the Brooklyn Museum exhibition “Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire”
WHEN: Saturday through Jan. 6
WHERE: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours on Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed holidays.
ADMISSION: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $7 for youth. $12 for groups of 10 or more. Members free.
TOURS: Docent-led tours at 2 and 6 p.m. Thursdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
INFO: (937) 223-4ART or www.daytonartinstitute.org