Ancient Greece In Tennessee

parthenon in Tennessee
Visitors in Tennessee have come to see American art in a setting that is decidedly Greek – ancient Greek. Nashville's Centennial Park is home to a full-size replica of the Parthenon.

The Parthenon in Nashville was built for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition to celebrate Nashville's role as the Athens of the South. "I think most people don't know there is a Parthenon in Nashville, Tenn., and those who do find out say, 'Why?'" says Wesley Payne, its director.

The building's pediments are adorned with sculptures depicting the tales of the ancients, including the story of Nike, the goddess of victory. Visitors enter through two towering bronze doors, each weighing more than 7 tons.

Now undergoing some cosmetic restoration, the Parthenon in Nashville is a faithful replica of the structure in its prime, right down to the 42-foot statue of the goddess of arts, Athena, that stands in the center of the main floor.

And true to her spirit, the arts are celebrated year-round in the Parthenon's galleries. Works of American art from the last three centuries make up most of the permanent exhibit; and temporary showings are rotated into the museum schedule. On display through September are the works of American painter Winslow Homer.

At the Parthenon in Nashville, classic art is presented in a classic setting.