Exhibit - Classically Inspired Architecture

Published on: 5/5/2020
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“...the art of shaping space to human needs and aspirations."

                      -JANSON, History of Art


The unique patterns from the Parthenon, Colosseum, and Notre Dame are the primary sources for architectural styles throughout western civilization. Explore these structures to discover their influences on Savannah's built environment. 


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The Doric order temple known as the Parthenon, built in honor of the Goddess Athena, is considered the epitome of Classical Greece's art and architecture. 



This Greek capital of the Corinthian order dates from the period of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) On loan from the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, this was brought as ballast to Savannah and thrown on the bank as the ship loaded cotton and naval stores. Part of a pair, the capitals was the gift to the Telfair of Harris M. King Jr., in memory of his father, who recognized their worth when he found them.



As eye-catching as they are, columns in antiquity (the past) were more than just visual decorationColumns supported beams, arches, or other building parts above them, distributing the weight to the structural elements beneath them. Still, people blended art into architecture, and columns are classified into three styles based in large on their capitals: 

Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian


Ready to top a column?

Turn the pieces to create one of the three types of column capitals.



Spanning long spaces while supporting weight, arches made possible the Colosseum as well as other architectural innovations. The Romans were the first to use arches extensively, and a variety of arch forms developed later. The Roman arch features a semi-circular arch. The pointed top of the Gothic arch is stronger because of the lines of compression. Flattened, somewhat pointed 

Tudor arches allowed for even larger openings.



Turn the panels to create complete arches.




The Colosseum was built to display architectural and construction prowess and to honor its creators. It was also a crowd-control masterpiece still emulated by sports stadiums today. 



While Savannah has a style all her own, it comprises distinct influences from these three primary sources: the Parthenon in Ancient Greece, the Colosseum in Ancient Rome, and the Cathedral of Norte Dame in France. Architects and researchers track adaptations, evolutions, and even revolutions in the way buildings are constructed and decorated. Styles, the collection of similar attributes, are thus designated. Each style is anchored within a bracket of date, during which it was at the leading edge of Western architecture.




Pure examples of a single architectural style are rare, but the Savannah structures whose photos appear on this rail exhibit key characteristics that place them in a specific style category.


Match the photos of Savannah structures to the style on the rail. If it sticks, you are correct! If it does not stick, try again!



Every art form and science discipline, including architecture, has its own set of particular words and vocabulary. Architecture, both an art and science, uses words and phrases with agreed-upon meanings to describe structural components that help compare its many styles. 

Turn the wheels to learn new terms!​

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