"In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit."
So begins the gripping literary journey of Bilbo Baggins. For decades now, the stories narrated by Tolkien have thrilled and captivated readers all over the world, and the heroic characters created by his prodigious pen - Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and Men - have accompanied us through Middle-Earth to the discovery of the legendary poetic universe of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the celebrated Oxford Professor and one of the most widely read and loved authors in the world.
Fifty years after his death and the first Italian edition of The Hobbit, arrives TOLKIEN. Uomo, Professore, Autore (Man, Professor, Author), which, hosted at the Galleria Nazionale, is the glorious exhibition that recounts and celebrates the human journey, academic work, narrative power, and poetic force of this extraordinary creator of languages and worlds and helps us understand how his life and vast knowledge of the ancient eras underpinned his original creative process that over time has been, and still is today, a source of inspiration in art, music, and the world of comics.
Compared to the major exhibitions held in Oxford (2018), Paris (2020), and Milwaukee (2022), which, however, only highlighted particular aspects of his literary works, the one at the Galleria Nazionale makes Tolkien - man, father and friend, academic and author of studies and publications that are still fundamental in the study of literature in Old and Middle English, storyteller and sub-creator of Middle-Earth - the undisputed star around which all the creations of his vast universe revolve.
The exhibition unfolds among selected autograph manuscripts, letters, memorabilia, photographs, and works of art inspired by the literary visions of the multifaceted author who, as a man of his time, novelist, linguist, and philologist, is recounted in all his artistic and human complexity.
Particular importance is paid to his relationship with Italy and Italian, of which he said to be in love but somewhat lost without the possibility of trying to speak it.
Space also to old and new film adaptations, from Ralph Bakshi's animated film to Peter Jackson's ambitious Lord of the Rings trilogy, winner of 17 Academy Awards.
Conceived and promoted by the Ministry of Culture with the collaboration of Oxford University, and realised by C.O.R. Creare Organizzare Realizzare with the curatorship of Oronzo Cilli, and the co-curatorship and organisation of Alessandro Nicosia, TOLKIEN. Uomo, Professore, Autore is the most significant retrospective of its kind in Italy in terms of spectacularity, size, unpublished material on display, and the authority of the international institutions involved: the Vatican Apostolic Archive, the Bibliothèque Alpha of the University of Liège, the University of Reading, the Oratory of San Filippo Neri in Birmingham, the Venerable English College in Rome, the Tolkien Society, the Arnoldo and Alberto Mondadori Foundation, the Benedetto Croce Library Foundation, the Biblioteca civica di Biella, the Astrolabio-Ubaldini and Bompiani publishing houses, the Greisinger Museum in Jenins and Warner Bros Discovery.
Rome is only the first stage of a journey that will continue in 2024 in other Italian cities.
Thanks to the MiC, you can visit the exhibition at no extra cost by showing your entrance ticket to the Galleria Nazionale.
Photo: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. Museum Bodleian Library, Oxford
From 16 November 2023 to 11 February 2024
Tuesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. last entry 45 minutes before closing
Closed Mondays, 1 January, 25 December
For updates and how to visit see the > official website
The programme may be subject to change