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Parthenon Architecture Tours

Parthenon Architecture Tours

The Nashville Parthenon, originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, is a replica of the historic Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Built between 447 and 438 BCE in the Age of Pericles, the Parthenon was dedicated to the city's patron deity, Athena. This magnificent temple would become the largest Doric Greek temple, although it was innovative in that it mixed the two architectural styles of Doric and Ionic.

Our architecture tours focus on the original construction of the Parthenon in Athens, including its innovative architectural techniques and elements. The tours explore the remarkable skill of the Athenians to construct their mighty temple in less than a decade and to work at a level of extraordinary precision without the benefit of modern tools. Additionally, the tours explain the 2,500 year architectural history of the Parthenon as it is set on fire, converted to a Christian church, converted to an Ottoman mosque, shattered by exploding gunpowder and looted for its stunning sculptures.


January 20: 10-11 AM
January 21: 2-3 PM
February 3: 10-11 AM
February 4: 2-3 PM
February 11: 2-3 PM
February 17: 10-11 AM
February 18: 2-3 PM
February 24: 10-11 AM
February 25: 2-3 PM

These tours are free for members of the Conservancy and free with the price of admission for non-Conservancy members.


Symposia at the Parthenon on January 25

symposia at the Parthenon

In conjunction with the exhibit An Archaeologist's Eye which examines the sculptural ornamentation of the Parthenon, Dr. Vivien Fryd of Vanderbilt University, will speak on the tradition in western art that contemporary feminist artists have dubbed the "heroic rape."

Since antiquity artists have created paintings and sculpture that aestheticized and glorified, as many of the Parthenon sculptures did, a violent sexual act with a patina of heroic mythology and history. Scholars have praised such works for their grandeur of design and overpowering sensation of drama without considering their violent sexual subject matter.

Beginning in the 1980s, some art historians problematized the sexually violent content of such revered works, arguing that representations of rape, even within the context of mythological and Biblical subject matter, seemed to glorify the event without asking what it means that this subject is so prevalent, accepted, and praised.

Dr. Fryd's talk will explain this "heroic rape" tradition and how and why feminist artists in the United States, working from the 1970s to the second decade of the twenty-first century, represented and challenged the dominant narrative about sexual violence against women.

The lecture will take place at the Parthenon at 6:00 p.m., with a reception following. Admission is free. However, reservations are requested. Please call 615-862- 8431 to make a reservation.


Parthenon Exhibit Opening

An Archeologist's Eye: The Parthenon Drawings of Katherine A. Schwab


The Parthenon Museum is pleased to announce the opening of An Archaeologist's Eye on January 13, 2018. The exhibition of drawings by Dr. Katherine Schwab explores the metopes of the ancient Parthenon and will continue through May 6.

Metope is the architectural term for the square spaces in a Doric frieze, usually decorated with high-relief sculpture. On the Athenian Parthenon, the metopes told the story of four significant battles and are considered an important aspect of the overall sculpture program of the temple. In an effort to develop a new method for recording these badly deteriorated sculptures the American art historian and archaeologist Katherine A. Schwab began experimenting with graphite and pastel on paper in 2005. Her new technique has contributed to the larger understanding of the east and north metope series, which illustrate mythic battles: the Olympian gods versus giants and the Trojan War respectively. Reproductions of her drawings accompany the labels for the original sculptures in the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, where they assist non-specialist visitors in reading and understanding the damaged reliefs.

Rather than create the standard line drawing, Dr. Schwab focused on shadow, light, shape and form. "Earlier archaeological renderings used lines to denote figures in the Parthenon's metope sculptures," said Dr. Schwab. "These images did not, however, convey important visual information, including the preserved depth of surviving contours of these figures, many of which were severely damaged in the 6th century when the ancient Greek temple was converted to a Christian church." Dr. Schwab's works on paper fill this void while creating an engaging aesthetic and intellectual tension between what is preserved and what has been lost.

The 35-work exhibition opens with 16 pastel and graphite drawings depicting the fight between the gods and the giants for supremacy on Mount Olympus. It continues with 12 graphite drawings of the Sacking of Troy, and concludes with 7 graphite drawings of figures from the frieze and pediments she developed to help visualize the metope compositions.

Dr. Schwab is a professor of art history in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and curator of the Plaster Cast Collection in the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT.

The exhibition was organized by the Bellarmine Museum of Art, Fairfield University, and Creighton University, with considerable help from the Timken Museum of Art. Parthenon exhibition sponsors include Humanities Tennessee, The Archeological Institute of America, Vanderbilt University, Metro Parks, and the Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park. With generous support from Humanities Tennessee, the Parthenon will feature a series of educational programs focusing on the glorification of war in western art, the effects of war on both people and the built environment, and the role of hairstyle and clothing in projecting identity in ancient Athens.