Frist prematurely closes Roman exhibit due to blasting

Frist Art Museum officials have announced a premature closing of Roman antiquities exhibition Rome: City and Empire due to construction issues related to the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel project at Nashville Yards.

The last day to see the 200-art-objects exhibition will be Saturday, April 21. Originally, the exhibit — on loan from the British Museum with Frist Art Museum the exclusive North American venue — was to have been offered through May 28. It opened Feb. 23.

A release does not note any revenue losses that could stem from the early closing. What had been planned as a roughly three-month run will now end up being less than two months.

The museum will offer free admission Friday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accommodate as many visitors as possible before the exhibition leaves Nashville.

Dr. Susan Edwards, Frist Art Museum director and CEO, said the decision to close prematurely “has been a difficult one.”

Lending institutions reserve the right to withdraw objects or an entire exhibition at any time, Edwards said. Earlier this month, 13 of the most fragile objects were removed from view and placed in safe storage. No work in the exhibition has been damaged or compromised.

“We were pleased that after several years of negotiations with the British Museum, we were able to arrange an exhibition of Roman antiquities for Nashville,” Edwards said in the release. “The British Museum has one of the most extensive and finest collections of Roman art in the world, and we are saddened that the opportunity for people in Middle Tennessee to learn about the impact of the Roman Empire on world culture has been cut short.” 

Amy Dillmann, British Museum project manager, said safety and security of the collection “has to be our top priority.”

Edwards said Frist Art Museum officials feel San Diego-based Southwest Value Partners, the developers of the Nashville Yards site, worked “closely and diligently” to minimize the impact of construction excavation and blasting. She said the blasting (which takes place every afternoon) levels are significantly below the limits set by the state to meet vibration tolerances agreeable to the British Museum. Still, British Museum and Frist officials decided to discontinue the exhibit.

“Despite efforts by the Frist Art Museum to provide extraordinary precautionary measures, it was not possible to keep the exhibition here until the end of May,” she said.

Relatedly, the exhibition in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery — Slavery, the Prison Industrial Complex: Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick — will be closed, Sunday, April 22, through Thursday, April 26, and will reopen in the Ingram Gallery on Friday, April 27.

An exhibit of work from artist Nick Cave will not be impacted by the changes. Nor will the Civil Rights movement exhibit on display at the Conte Community Arts Gallery.

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