The city of Nashville, Tennessee decided for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 to build a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon keeping in line with the city’s nickname “Athens of the South”. Even the sculptures adorning the large building were made from direct casts of the original Parthenon Marbles located in the Acropolis Museum and at the British Museum.
In 1990 a full-sized replica statue of Athena was completed and displayed inside the cavernous interior of the structure. Originally finished in all white, painted features and special gilding were added to the statue in 2002 bringing it closer to resembling the original statue in Athens according to recounts of some historians on how the original sculpture may have appeared.
Today the impressive building is the centerpiece of Centennial Park and also houses Nashville’s Art Museum with its permanent collection of 19th and 20th century artists. The paintings were donated by James M. Cowan, a wealthy insurance mogul who visited the Parthenon during the 1897 Exposition. The collection today is known as the Cowan Collection. Nashville’s Parthenon can also be seen in Greeks: Crucible of Civilization, a PBS series, and the motion picture Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Lightning Thief.
© 2014 G. Scott Brinkley. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.