Among the great masterpieces of ancient art, the Villa of the Mysteries fresco paintings have fascinated scholars and inspired visual artists with depictions of women engaged in mysterious rituals.  In the 1920's University of Michigan Professor Francis Kelsey commissioned Italian artist Maria Barosso to create a nearly life-sized representation of the Villa frescoes.  Exhibited for the first time in its entirety, Barosso's work is accompanied by a rich array of ancient art and artifacts, providing a fresh look at cultic rites practiced by women in ancient Pompeii.  Also included are works of contemporary art inspired by the Villa cycle, which attest to the enduring appeal of its themes and imagery.

This website offers visitors a preview of the themes and objects on display, while also providing an overview for those who will not have the opportunity to see the exhibit in person.  Designed to appeal both to scholars and to the general public, the website features a virtual presentation of the exhibit as well as an interactive virtual tour of the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii and its famous fresco cycle.  A work still in progress, the website will also eventually include an interactive Quicktime video that allows websurfers to view the actual museum galleries with "The Villa of the Mysteries: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse" on display. Web visitors are encouraged to explore further the issues and themes of the exhibit through relevant bibliographies and links to other internet sites about Pompeii, Roman women, and Roman religion. The website also provides information on the events planned to coincide with the exhibit, including Family Day at the museums and a three-day conference featuring lectures and panel discussions.

This exhibition is being generously funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the following University of Michigan units: the Office of the Vice President for Research; College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; Institute for Research on Women and Gender; and the Arts of Citizenship Program.  Additional funding was provided by the following individuals: Helmut Stern, Cruse and Virginia Moss, Ann Taylor van Rosevelt, Gregory and Margene Henry, the Associates of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and the Friends of the Museum of Art.

Look for an update to this page in late October, 2000!