Colonizing the Past: Constructing Race in Ancient Greece and Rome

August 30, 2021 - December 27, 2021
Teaching Gallery

Greek vases, marble sculptures, and other ancient works hint at how artists in antiquity visualized racial identity, often in ways quite different from our own. This Teaching Gallery exhibition presents a selection of ancient objects from the Museum's collection—including Greek vases from the early fourth century BCE to the third century CE—alongside a range of drawings, paintings, and sculpture, from the Renaissance to today, by such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Peter Paul Rubens, and Romare Bearden. Through these works the exhibition examines the emergence of an interpretation in which the image of Classical Antiquity is inextricably tied to Whiteness, as well as how this construction still pervades contemporary thinking about the ancient world.

The exhibition is curated by Kathryn Wilson, senior lecturer in the Department of Classics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, in conjunction with her course “Race and Identity in Greco-Roman Antiquity,” offered in fall 2021.

Download the Teaching Gallery flyer >>

View the curator's website for the course and exhibition >>

Read the curator's blog post for the Center for the Humanities >>

View the HEC-TV story on the exhibition >>


To request a tour of the exhibition for your class or group, please email kempereducation@wustl.edu.

Image credit

Nicolas Beatrizet (French, c. 1515–1565), Bas-reliefs from the Arch of Constantine, from Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, 1553. Engraving, 13 1/4 x 18". Gift of the Art and Archaeology Department, Washington University, 1980.