Capitoline Venus Loan to National Gallery of Art Aids Rome’s Olympic Push

"The 6-foot-tall Capitoline Venus, installed in the Rotunda of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, will be on display until Sept. 5. The statue was excavated from the buried ruins of an ancient building in Rome in the 1670s and given to the Capitoline Museum by Pope Benedict XIV in 1752" (Flamini).

The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, wants to bring the Summer Olympics to Rome in 2020, so he has started a campaign to raise Rome’s global profile by using its rich artistic history.  As part of this plan, he is loaning some of ancient Rome’s greatest sculptures to cities in the United States.  “The Dream of Rome: The Eternal Masterpieces in the United States, 2011-2013,” opened in early June 2011 when the Capitoline Venus went on exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.

All of the works in the exhibit are from the Capitoline Musesum.  The only other time the Capitoline Venus has moved from the museum was when the victorious Emperor Napoleon took it to Paris as spoils of war in 1797.  This exhibit is also significant because museums and collectors have been increasingly reluctant to lend prize possessions abroad because of the expense of air freight and insurance and security concerns.

Alemanno stated that he hopes that this campaign will counteract the bad press Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has been receiving.  It is significant that Rome is using their historic art to improve their global image and promote a national goal, and it will be interesting to see if this makes an impact on bringing the Olympics to Rome.

“The Dream of Rome” project comes to an end on Sept. 9, 2013, when the International Olympic Committee votes on the host city for 2020.


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