Exhibition in Beijing shows the beginning of ancient Rome

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Visitors photograph cultural relics at Tota Italia: Origins of a Nation. Photo: VCG

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

For those in Beijing with a keen interest in ancient Roman history, they can now get a glimpse of how Rome was built by visiting the National Museum of China.

Tota Italia: Origins of a Nation, an exhibition hosted by the museum until October 9, presents 503 valuable antiquities from the 4th century BC. to the 1st century AD from 26 museums across Italy.

As a flagship project of the China-Italian Year of Culture and Tourism, the exhibition aims to show the historical process of political and cultural unification and the cultural plurality of the Italian peninsula.

Stephane Verger, co-curator of the exhibition from Italy, told Xinhua News Agency that the exhibition “reflects Italy on a historical level.”

Verger, also director of the National Roman Museum, said: “Communication between civilizations is absolutely necessary, it has always been there, and that is what the exhibition is about.”

It is a good thing to “show the Chinese public how the founding of Italy dates back to ancient times” during the Sino-Italian Culture and Tourism Year, he added.

In the first week after the opening of the exhibition, 20,000 visitors entered the museum to see the antiquities that are rarely seen outside of Italy.

So far it has attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

Many of the antiques have never been exhibited outside of the European country, and some masterpieces have even never left their museums.

For example, the “Altar Dedicated to Mars, Venus and Silvanus” from the National Roman Museum is celebrating its foreign debut at the exhibition. The altar depicts Roman mythology of a she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, who later founded the city of Rome.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the antiquities were brought to the Chinese Museum by plane, unaccompanied by Italian staff. Before the trip, both sides have fully agreed on the details of the transport.

The unpacking and exhibition setup that followed was also monitored by the Italian side via video conference.

Based on the trust built in the long-term cooperation between the two sides, this exhibition can be carried out through this new model, said Pan Qing, co-curator of the exhibition from China.

Pan said through cultural exchanges, people in different regions have been able to explore commonalities between different civilizations while appreciating the uniqueness of each civilization from a new perspective.

This is not the first time China and Italy have held such cultural exchanges.

In recent years, the two countries have engaged in intensive exchange and cooperation in the field of culture.

The National Museum of China alone has held seven exhibitions in collaboration with Italian cultural institutions.

“The future dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and foreign civilizations will be more exciting,” Pan said.

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