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In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite

The Toledo Museum of Art opens the exhibition In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite on November 11, 2006, an extremely rare exhibition of 2,000-year-old Roman frescoes that have never before toured the United States.

The exhibition consists of more than 70 works of art and artifacts recovered from five ancient Roman villas located in Stabiae, a resort community of lavish summer homes overlooking the Bay of Naples.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a.d. 79, buried Stabiae in ash and pumice, along with the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  Although life in Stabiae was brought to an abrupt end, the treasures and luxurious living quarters were remarkably preserved. In Stabiano will be on view from November 11, 2006, through January 28, 2007.


Highlights of exhibition

Ancient Stabiae (modern Castellammare di Stabia) consisted of a string of enormous sea-view villas built by the Roman elite for summer residency and political entertaining in the first centuries b.c. and a.d. In the summer months the Bay of Naples became the virtual capital of the Roman Empire.

Italian (Villa Arianna, Varano hill, Castellammare di Stabia), Hippolytus. Fresco, second half of the first century a.d. © Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii

The exhibition features 26 remarkably well-preserved fresco wall paintings and 11 wall reliefs made of stucco originating from five partially excavated villas.  The frescoes are among the very highest quality ever recovered from Roman history. Most notably the exhibition includes an entire triclinium (three-couch dining room) frescoed with scenes of Dionysus, god of wine and other reveling gods. Roman aristocrats used their villas as power bases for entertaining clients, which explains why they invested so much in decorating their surroundings with fine works of art.

The Toledo Museum of Art has installed the exhibition to evoke the feeling of a visit to a luxurious Roman seaside villa, designed to enjoy both glorious views of the Bay of Naples and also quiet garden courtyards. Visitors will be able to experience the spaces, the objects, and the art that were integral to the lives of household members and their guests.

The exhibition and four-year tour is organized by the Superintendancy of Archaeology of Pompei and the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation, and constitutes the first long-term loan of major cultural treasures from Italy to the U.S.  The RAS Foundation has as its mission the completion of the excavation and conservation of at least two of the enormous villas and the transformation of the site into one of the largest archaeological parks in modern Europe. Website at: www.stabiae.org. The site of Stabiae (Castellammare di Stabia) is 2.5 miles from Pompeii and is currently open to the public.


Exhibition Events

 Friday, November 10

the blAst

The drama and intrigue of ancient Rome will live again, at the blAst-a signature Museum fundraising event. TMA and the Museum Ambassadors invite everyone to experience this singular opportunity to travel back in time and sample the lifestyle of Stabiae's residents before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  Tickets are available at the $35 and $85 levels. 


Senator Tickets-$85

Arrive for 7:30 p.m. entry. Enjoy a strolling supper and cash bar in Classic Court. Be one of the first to see the luxurious villas recreated inside the major exhibition In Stabiano at 8:30 p.m.


Citizen Tickets-$35

The evening begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Grove Place entrance with rustic Roman festivities and the In Stabiano exhibition opening.

The Marketplace

All guests are invited to take part in the hottest shopping of the season at
the blAst's
Marketplace. Local and regional vendors will present goods rivaling those used by the ancient Roman elite. Visitors can also pay a visit to
the Oracle to learn the future and partake of gaming and revelry throughout the evening. Raffle* tickets are available for a chance at prizes ranging from a weeklong getaway in a private residence in Naples, Florida, to a stunning Italian bracelet, to a Venetian vacation in Italy. Raffle tickets are only $25 each and can be purchased prior to or at the blAst. (Note: Must be 18 years of age to participate. Terms, restrictions, and conditions apply.)

Italian (Gragnano, Villa Carmiano), Winged Griffin. Fresco, first half of the first century a.d. (Flavian Age) © Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii



Saturday, November 11, 1 p.m., Little Theater

Program: Roman Luxury Villas, with Professor Thomas Noble Howe

What does it take to excavate and exhibit first-century luxury villas buried by an infamous volcanic eruption? The Coordinator General of the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation, Professor Thomas Noble Howe, presents fascinating anecdotes and images from the efforts that brought In Stabiano to reality.

Discover how the Roman elite built these seaside retreats along the Bay of Naples for relaxing, entertaining, and impressing powerful guests, and maneuvering politically. Prof. Howe will also enlighten visitors about the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation's innovative development of one of the largest archeological parks in Europe on the site of ancient Stabiae, near Pompeii.  



The exhibition is accompanied by the fully illustrated 160-page color catalogue, In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite. The large format paperbound catalogue is available for $50 at the Museum Store or by calling
419-254-5766. Phone orders will include an additional charge for shipping and handling.   


Ticket & Tour Information

Exhibition admission is free for Museum members, $7 for adults, and $5 for seniors and students. On Fridays, students with a valid ID are admitted free of charge. Call
419-255-8000 for further ticket information.  Public tours are offered, please visit

 www.toledomuseum.org for times.  To schedule a private Docent-led tour of the exhibition, call 419-254-5771, ext. 7352.

In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite is organized by the Restoring Ancient Stabiae (RAS) Foundation and the Superintendency of Archaeology of Pompeii (SAP) and is toured in the U.S. by International Art & Artists, Washington, D.C., partially sponsored by Alitalia, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), Grand Circle Foundation, and the Italian Cultural Institute.


Complementary Exhibitions

The Lure of Pompeii

October 20, 2006-January 14, 2007

Gallery 18

After the rediscovery and the excavation of Pompeii, this buried Roman city soon became an important stop for scholars and the fashionable elite. Notable writers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited in 1787, Charles Dickens in 1844, and Mark Twain in 1885. Pompeii remains an important tourist destination today. The Lure of Pompeii features paintings, photographs, sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts inspired by this historic site.  What is the secret of Pompeii's indelible appeal? Discover The Lure of Pompeii for yourself in Gallery 18. Admission is free.

Italian (Villa Arianna, Varano hill, Castellammare di Stabia), Fragment of Theatre Mask of Tragedy. Fresco, first century a.d. © Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii



The End: Mortality and Remembrance

October 20, 2006-January 14, 2007

Works on Paper Galleries

While the major exhibition In Stabiano: Exploring Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite examines the remains of a community whose citizens were overwhelmed by the a.d. 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, TMA’s exhibition The End: Mortality and Remembrance explores how mankind artistically portends, represents, and venerates life's inevitable conclusion.

This exhibition, drawn from TMA’s extensive collection of works on paper, features more than 75 works of art ranging from Albrecht Dürer’s 16th-century biblical engravings to Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s 20th-century photographs of the joyful Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Admission is free.






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