YU Museum Celebrates Opening of Arch of Titus Exhibition

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Exhibition Explores Shifting Meaning and Significance of Historic Monument Over Millenia

On September 13, the Yeshiva University Museum and the YU Center for Israel Studies celebrated the opening of a new exhibition, “The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back,” at the Museum, located at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street.

Built circa 82 CE, the Arch of Titus preserves sculptural reliefs that depict the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple being carried into Rome by celebrating Roman soldiers, including a seven-branched Menorah, which, since 1949, has been the emblem of the State of Israel.

Digitally projected colors on the replica of the Arch of Titus

Digitally projected colors on the replica of the Arch of Titus

The opening featured a digitally carved life-size replica of the Spoils of Jerusalem relief from the Arch, on which was projected reconstructions of the missing sculptures and colors of the original relief, based on the polychromy discovered in 2012 by YU’s Arch of Titus Project. The exhibition also includes rare artifacts from collections in Italy, Israel and the United States to illuminate this long history, including a postcard of the Arch written in 1913 by Sigmund Freud, inscribed: “The Jew Survives it.”

Dr. Steven Fine, Churgin Professor of Jewish History and director of the Center for Israel Studies, noted that the opening took place on the anniversary of Emperor Titus’ death in 81 CE. “This exhibition explores a major western ‘place of memory’ from antiquity to the present, and across cultures,” he said. “Our opening took place on the anniversary—the yahrzeit—of Titus himself, a day the ancient Jews must have celebrated and the Romans mourned. The continuing significance of this monument is extraordinary.”

Steven Fine (second from right) explains the meaning of the Arch to Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, while Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum (far left) looks on.

Dr. Steven Fine (second from right) explains the meaning of the Arch to Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University (center), while Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum (far left), looks on.

“Though we tend to see the Arch of Titus and other such ancient monuments in immutable terms, this exhibition reveals and reflects on the dynamic ways the Arch has been physically and symbolically transformed over the ages,” said Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum. “The exhibition isn’t just about history but about making connections to Jewish culture and tradition today.”

The exhibition runs from September 14, 2017, to January 14, 2018. The Museum and the Center will also hold a special international conference on the Arch on October 29, 2017.

For more information, visit www.yumuseum.org/.

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