About the Site

Alexander the Great



Antoninus Pius



Clodius Albinus






Young Man



Roman Matron






Syrian Woman

The Riley Collection of Roman Portraits

In February 1997 The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art opened a new exhibit to the public, The Tom and Nan Riley Collection of Roman Portraiture. The Riley Collection, dating to the period when Rome was at its greatest prosperity--the first century B.C. to the third century A.D.--is especially good at introducing students and those interested in ancient Rome to the diversity of the Roman world. Ranging from patricians to plebeians, the collection includes not only emperors and senators, but also men, women, and children from all walks of life. Finally, the collection provides a unique opportunity for people to get to know Romans as individual human beings who were concerned about many of the same issues that we are: identity, status, leadership, and gender.

The Website

The Riley website is designed to be useful to students, grade six through university, their teachers, and anyone interested in the Roman empire. Each portrait includes a

  • Physical description and a catalogue entry written by Richard De Puma, Professor of Art History at the University of Iowa.
  • Photographs of each sculpture by C. Randall Tosh.
  • Selected links to more information about the art, history, and culture relevant to the individual portrayed.

In addition, many of the portraits also include a

  • Genealogical tree showing who is related to who, designed by Sue Olsen, teacher at Rowland Hall, Salt Lake City, and Jim Ruebel, Professor of Classics and Dean of the Honors College at Ball State University.
  • Fictional, first-person narrative called "Who am I?" allowing the portrait to speak in his or her own voice.

The site also features Teaching Materials designed to help teachers come up with ideas for integrating the site into their own pre-existing courses. The materials were originally submitted by teachers in the Cedar Rapids area in partial fulfillment of a course, Integrating Local Resources into the Classroom, taught by John Gruber-Miller.

Coming Attractions

  • In Cultural Background, the site also contains an Introduction to Ancient Portraiture, by Richard De Puma, as well as additional links on the history, religion, culture, and daily life during the height of the Roman empire.
  • Interactive quizzes that allow visitors to test their knowledge of what they have learned.
  • Gateway to buildings and monuments in virtual Rome (VRoma) appropriate for that person.

VRoma, A Virtual Community for Teaching Classics

  • VRoma is a collection of Internet resources, including texts, commentaries, images, maps, and other materials. These resources are extendable and customizable for a variety of reading levels and curricula.
  • As an on-line virtual space, VRoma contextualizes and situates linguistic and cultural information within a simulated space, a virtual "city" containing historical places (a simulation of the city of Rome circa 150 CE) and non-historical places (simulations of various types of spaces that imaginatively evoke ancient life). It is a place where can students can visit and take tours of the ancient city or where they can participate in building projects in special Project Rooms set up for specific courses.
  • As an on-line "place," VRoma is a place where students and teachers can interact both synchronously and asynchronously. Students can have discussions, role play, or re-enact historical events. They can respond to the people, places, and artifacts of the ancient world through discussion with their fellow time-travelers.
  • Most importantly, VRoma is a community of teachers and learners. The project brings people together--pre-college and college, faculty and students--to collaborate for entire courses or specific projects.

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

In addition to the Riley Collection, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art features the world's largest collections of works by Grant Wood, Marvin D. Cone, and Mauricio Lasansky. The museum also holds a strong collection of paintings and sculpture from the early twentieth century including many sculptures by Malvina Hoffman. The Museum also has strong collections of Regionalist art from the 1930s and 1940s, of twentieth century American prints, of work in all media by Iowa artists, and of contemporary midwestern painting and photography.

Site Design

The site was first conceived and designed by Michael Arnush, John Gruber-Miller, Sue Olsen, and Jim Ruebel in 1997 at the first VRoma Summer Workshop at Rhodes College. Frames for the site were first designed by Mike Nielsen at Cornell College. Additional technical work and site implementation was provided by Chris Johanson while he was a student at Iowa State University.

Site Maintainer

Site maintainer is John Gruber-Miller, Professor of Classics at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. His research interests in Greek and Roman Comedy, language instruction, and technology frequently intersect with his teaching: he and his Latin students have regularly staged bi-lingual productions of Plautus and Terence; he has authored Scriba, Software to accompany the Oxford Latin Course, Part 1 (1994); he is a core faculty member of the VRoma Project, A Virtual Community for the Teaching of Classics; finally, he is the editor of When Dead Tongues Speak: Teaching Beginning Latin and Greek (forthcoming 2001), a volume that explores ways of teaching Latin and Greek using collaborative and communicative approaches.




Antonine Woman as Venus



Young Boy






Young Girl



Hadrianic Noble



Marcus Aurelius



Priest of Bacchus

Academic Info Select Site

E-mail Comments/Suggestions to
John Gruber-Miller