Past Exhibitions

Stadia: Sport and Vision in Architecture

6 July - 22 September 2012

2012 Olympic Stadium, image provided by Populous™


From the religious sporting competitions of ancient Greece and the often bloody games of the imperial Roman circus through to the modern sporting arena the stadium has inspired architects to create some of the largest and most technically accomplished buildings ever created. The great monuments of the classical past, such as the Coliseum, Rome, or the Hippodrome, Constantinople (Istanbul), have fascinated architects from the 15th century onwards. Sir John Soane mused upon the Coliseum in one of his lectures:

'.. a magnificent and mighty structure in its perfect state, worthy of the majesty of ancient Rome. What a splendid sight it must have been when eighty thousand spectators were seated within its walls; but how changed, how melancholy in its present wretched state, majestic, however, even in its venerable ruins'.

Today, this legacy is continued in the great sporting arenas and stadia that have been raised to house such important events as the modern Olympic Games (the Olympic Stadium at Stratford). This exhibition, sponsored by Populous™, the official Architectural and Overlay Design Services Provider to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, will explore the origins of the modern sports stadium in antiquity and will look at how modern architects have both responded to this legacy and gone beyond it.  The exhibition catalogue is now on sale through the Museum shop.

The exhibition will also inaugurate Sir John Soane's new temporary exhibition gallery designed by the architects Caruso St John. This marks the successful completion of the first phase of work on the Museum's £7 million redelopment project Opening up the Soane which will safeguard the Soane, its unique interiors and collections for future generations. For more information about the project and how you can help please click here.  

Populous' Olympic Stadium is one of the buildings nominated for the RIBA Stirling Architecture prize, and the Guardian newspaper is running a poll.  Vote for your winner on their website!