Emperor Domitian: God on Earth

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In December 2021 a major international exhibition will open in the museum on the subject of Domitian, emperor of the vast Roman Empire from AD 81 to 96. The show will feature art objects from numerous museums around the world. In this exhibition, visitors can follow the filmic life of the emperor, his empress, and his illustrious predecessors. Domitian became emperor at 29 years of age. His reign is seen as one of the Empire’s golden ages. Yet he was assassinated, posthumously mocked and reviled, and ultimately consigned to oblivion. But what was Domitian really like as emperor?

Masterpieces of the Golden Age of the Roman Empire

This exhibition features a fine selection of masterpieces from the first century AD, the heyday of the Roman Empire. You will see portraits and statues of emperor Domitian and members of the imperial family, fragments of murals and mosaics from elegant villas and palaces, statues of gods and goddesses, jewellery made of gold and gemstones, luxury glassware and dinner services, and funerary monuments of the élite. The display-cases will also contain more everyday items, such as the shoes and writing pens of Domitian’s soldiers. Projections and 3D reconstructions give a picture of life of the city of Rome as it looked in the first century AD, with its spectacular new monuments.

Builders of the Colosseum

With his father Vespasian and brother Titus, Domitian formed the Flavian dynasty. Art and literature reached glorious heights under their rule. But it was also an era of transformational historic events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70) and the eruption of Vesuvius (AD 79), which petrified Pompeii and Herculaneum for eternity. Domitian built the Rome that you know today: his palace on the Palatine Hill, the Arch of Titus, the stadium that gave the present-day square Piazza Navona its shape. And what is particularly striking is the completion during his reign of the edifice that is still iconic: the Colosseum.

'Emperor Domitian: God on Earth' is expected to be on view from December 17, 2021.