Itinerary of a Modern Myth

From March 17 to May 21
Villa Medici, Rome (Italy)

The French Academy in Rome - Villa Medici is pleased to present the ORIENT-EXPRESS & Co. Itinerary of a Modern Myth exhibition, which spans nearly a century of history and passion for a legendary train.

A mechanical object turned cultural icon, the Orient-Express has been the source of a multitude of stories and representations based on facts, both real and invented. However, before becoming a literary and cinematographic object, the Orient-Express is first and foremost the train of a railway company: the Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits (CIWL). In operation between 1883 and 1977 and linking Paris to Constantinople, later Istanbul, it was the first in a series of international luxury trains. Its creation was a diplomatic and economic exploit at a time when railroads were used as tools to demonstrate the political power of empires and states.

The works and photographs displayed in the Orient-Express & Co. Itinerary of a Modern Myth exhibition come from the archives of the former Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits. Photographic prints, but also plans, maps, technical drawings and advertisements from that period, the exhibition brings together more than 200 exhibits that place the Orient-Express in its broader historical context. While most of the photographs are anonymous, there are others signed by famous studios such as Paul Nadar, Albert Chevojon or Sébah & Joaillier. Beyond the myth, the exhibition reveals all the engineering of a luxury train that was made possible by an impressive network of workshops and services (launderers, cabinetmakers, boilermakers, etc.).

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Exhibition co-produced by the Orient-Express Endowment Fund and the Rencontres d'Arles.
  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture