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Helmet of a Controretiarius, from the Barracks of the Gladiators of Pompeii, Bronze,
1st Century, Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Gladiators have come to Fernbank Museum

Fernbank Museum of Natural History invites visitors to discover the story behind one of Rome’s most celebrated traditions in the new special exhibition, Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum, on view from Sept. 30 through Jan. 7, 2018. Presented in celebration of the Museum’s 25th Anniversary, this international exhibit plunges visitors into the heart of ancient Rome with more than 100 original artifacts, large-scale replicas and immersive environments.

The first gladiators fought in open spaces in Roman cities. As the fights became more popular, they were held in temporary wooden arenas, which developed into great stone buildings that dominated Roman cityscapes. The greatest arena of all was the Colosseum – taking 10 years to construct and seating between 50,000 - 70,000 people. Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum unfolds on two paths to reveal the story of these protagonists interwoven by destiny: the largely unknown lives of gladiators and the stage of the Colosseum.


Greave, Bronze, Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum explores four themes: “Origins of Gladiatorial Combat & Venationes (Staged Hunts),” “The Colosseum, Amphitheatre of the Emperors,” “Who Were the Gladiators?” and “A Day at the Arena.” Throughout each section, modern replicas are paired with archaeological treasures to provide a closer look at the role of gladiators in Ancient Rome. Some artifacts on display include large pieces of the Colosseum, elaborately decorated bronze gladiator helmets, and original arms and armor preserved in the ashes of Pompeii.

Additionally, Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum will feature a “Kid’s Colosseum” section – with hands-on activities designed for children to explore what life was like in ancient Rome. Activities include puppet shows, a wooden block model of the Colosseum, hopscotch (which may have originated in Rome,) and children’s toys like those in ancient Rome. Additionally, Fernbank will offer regular readings of stories from Roman mythology.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets and visitor information are available at or by calling 404-929-6400.


Painted Slab from the Tomb Vannulo II , Travertine stone with painted surface, 4th century
BCE, Paestum, Museo Archeologico Nazionale



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