Buy Tickets Ticket Join Today

Today’s Hours: 10am – 5pm

Press Release

Gladiators Coming to Fernbank Museum September 30 in Major International Exhibit

Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum to be Presented in Celebration of the Museum’s 25th Anniversary

ATLANTA, September 28, 2017 –  From the seats of the world’s most iconic stage, 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 September 30 through January 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.

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.

In its representation of ancient combat battles, Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum presents parallels between gladiatorial contests and modern sports culture. Throughout the exhibit, guests are introduced to different types of warriors. Based on images, ancient texts and artifacts, more than 10 types of gladiators have been reconstructed, each with their own equipment and battle style. Visitors will discover training techniques and battle preparation, as well as how fighting styles, armor and weapons varied across fighters. Additionally, guests will discover what a day-long gladiator contest in the Colosseum was like – including a festive procession to start the day’s events and gladiator duels in the afternoon.

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.

“The rich historical content and artifacts featured in this exhibit make it a one-of-a-kind experience for our guests,” said Dr. Bobbi Hohmann, Fernbank’s Vice President of Programming and Collections. “Despite the centuries that separate us from Rome’s heyday, I think many people will be surprised by the parallels between today’s athletes and sporting events and those from roughly 2,000 years ago – when gladiators took center stage at the Colosseum, the greatest entertainment venue of the ancient world.”

Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum is organized by Contemporanea Progetti and Expona in collaboration with the Colosseum, Rome.

SPECIAL PROGRAMMING: Gladiator Day will take place on Saturday, September 30 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in celebration of Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum and Fernbank’s 25th Anniversary. Gladiator Day will feature hands-on programs and activities inspired by Ancient Rome, including a costume contest, gladiator demos, a laurel wreath craft, Colosseum model building with LEGO® Master Builders and more.

SPECIAL OFFER: Kids in costume will receive 50% off Museum tickets on September 30, 2017. Guests are encouraged to participate in the gladiator costume contest by posting on social media with the hashtag #FernbankMuseum for a chance to win prizes. Limit: 4 discounted child tickets per family. Valid Sept. 30, 2017 only. Must wear costume in person at box office for discount.

On October 7, the celebration will continue in grand style with A Timeless Affair 2017: Gladiators – “What we do now echoes in eternity, Fernbank’s annual black tie fundraising gala. The event highlights 25 years of Fernbank, with inspiration from Gladiators. More than 400 guests will revel in support of the museum’s mission with a sunset cocktail hour, seated dinner, silent and live auctions, dancing, and an exclusive viewing of the special exhibition.

Tickets to the all-new after-party, Time After Timeless, are available for purchase. Details on this special after-hours event for young professionals can be found at

HOURS AND TICKETS: Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum is included with Museum admission. Tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for seniors, $16 for children ages 3-12, free for children 2 and under, and free for Fernbank members.

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 404.929.6400.

# # #