rose-mayWhat is Renaissance art? Was it really born in Italy and if so, why? How is it recognized? Traditionally, the Renaissance was believed to have originated in Florence in the late 14th century as the result of a booming economy and a wide distribution of wealth among the population.

Modern historians have been rewriting this story. We now know that Florence was actually one of many Italian cities that benefited from an expansion of banking and trade and subsequently became flourishing artistic centers.

Dr. Rose May, head of interpretation at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, will speak twice on Friday, Sept. 13 at Missouri Southern State University.

• Dr. May will present “Locating Renaissance Art” at 10 a.m. in Corley Auditorium in Webster Hall.  The talk will highlight the art and architecture of three dynamic cities: Florence, Sienna and Vienna, demonstrating there wasn’t one Renaissance but many.

• “Medieval Backwater to Caput Mundi: the Transformation of Rome in the 16th and 17th Centuries” will be presented at 1 p.m. on Friday, also in Corley Auditorium.  This talk will offer an overview of the transformation of Rome from 1500 to 1700 and highlight the famous and infamous personalities of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini and others who made it happen.

Dr. May visited Italy for the first time as a teenager with her parents, brother, and her Italian-American grandmother and was captivated by the art, architecture, people, and language of the country. This experience has led to a lifelong fascination with the country’s unique history and culture.

Dr. May has since traveled to Italy many times to study the art and architecture of Tuscany and Rome, earning an M.A. from the University of Illinois and Ph.D. from Temple University − both with a specialization in the Italian Renaissance. Her research focuses on the art and architectural projects of the Spanish in Rome, which was one of the largest and most powerful expatriate communities in the city during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The presentations are free and open to the public.