Journal of The History of Collections | 2021
Displaying plaster casts, staging Romanization
\n In 1911, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of Italy, a grand exhibition of Roman antiquities was hosted at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Rodolfo Lanciani, main agent behind the organization of this Mostra Archeologica, opted for exhibiting mainly reproductions of ancient monuments from the far-flung regions that once formed the Roman Empire. The aim was to reconstruct a coherent image of ancient Roman culture, directed towards the celebration of both the glorious Roman Empire and the expanding Italian one. By examining the selection of material exhibited and its display, this paper will analyse how early twentieth-century visions of the Roman past and the Italian present were reflected in the Mostra Archeologica. This analysis sheds light on the impact of these ideas and the nationalistic biases they introduced into the formulation of modern notions of Roman provincial art and archaeology.