Roman culture developed in stages: first as a monarchy, then a republic, and finally an empire.

The arts were effectively used to support the idea of community, citizenship, and centralized power throughout these changes and as Roman territory rapidly expanded.

Portraits of rulers, for instance, propagated the idea of benevolent authority to the far reaches of the Roman world. The museum's collection includes fascinating examples of this propaganda, from exquisitely carved marble busts to coins. Other fine art objects highlight Roman religious beliefs and aspects of daily life.