Programmes at many of Romes foreign cultural academies and institutes are put on hold over the festive period, but a number of exhibitions are open and offer respite to weary Christmas shoppers and socialites.

l The Calcografia, in Via della Stamperia 6, is presenting a visual feast of prints from the collection of the British Council, including works by big names such as Peter Blake, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, R.B. Kitaj and Bridget Riley. As is When: A boom in British printmaking 1961-1972 documents the rise in the status of screen printing as a fine art medium, during a decade in which it was taken up by both emerging and established artists. The exhibition also includes etchings and lithographs, and features a number of innovative prints, which explored the use of new materials of the time.

Among the works on show is Eduardo Paolozzis 1965 series of 12 screen prints, As is When, which has been described as the first masterpiece of the medium and gives the exhibition its name. Also on display are three screen prints on perspex from Rileys 1965 Fragments series; three on acetate from Joe Tilsons 1967-1969 Clip-O-Matic series; and three of Richard Hamiltons vacuum-formed Guggenheim relief multiples from 1970. As is When runs 15 Dec-7 Feb 2005. For information and opening times tel. 0669980242.

British Council, Via delle Quattro Fontane 20, tel. 06478141, www.britishcouncil.it.

l On display at the American Academy are photographs taken by archaeologist Giuseppe Gatteschi (1862-1935) at the excavation sites of ancient Roman monuments. Gatteschi used these shots as the basis for reconstruction drawings, creating pairs of images that anticipate the layered approach of guidebooks today. Ancient Rome as reconstructed in the photographs of Giuseppe Gatteschi runs until 22 Dec and 11-17 Jan 2005, and is open Tues and Thurs 16.00-18.00 or by appointment, tel. 065846281.

American Academy in Rome, Via A. Masina 5, tel. 0658461, www.aarome.org.

l The Polish Institute is celebrating the centenary of the birth of writer Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), who has been described as the most important 20th-century novelist most western readers have never heard of. The son of wealthy landowners, Gombrowicz studied philosophy and economics in Paris and law in Warsaw before leaving Europe for Argentina a month before the outbreak of world war two. He spent the next 24 years being both amused and irritated by the conservative Polish expatriate community and struggling with his own identity as a Polish migr writer. In 1963 a grant allowed him to leave Argentina at last and spend a year in Berlin, after which he moved to Vence in the south of France.

Best known for his novels Ferdydurke, Pornografia and Kosmos, Gombrowicz was obsessed with the individuals battle against the strictures of culture and enjoyed an almost childlike delight in language, writing in a poetic, anti-conventional style. His fans include Susan Sontag, John Updike and Milan Kundera, and his plays have been compared with those of Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco. The 30 photographs that make up the exhibition Witold Gombrowicz, Vence Chiavari 1965-1968 were taken in Italy and France during the last years of the authors life by his friend Bohdan Paczowski, an architect who currently directs the Architecture Foundation in Luxembourg. The exhibition runs until 14 Jan 2005, and is open Mon-Fri 10.00-18.00. On 24 Dec it closes at 13.00.

Istituto Polacco di Roma, Via Vittoria Colonna 1, tel. 0636000723, www.istitutopolacco.it.

l The resident artists and architect at the British School at Rome will be presenting their work between 17-22 Dec, providing a chance to observe new trends in contemporary visual art and architecture. The Fine Arts exhibition will be open Mon-Sat 16.30-19.00 and by appointment, tel. 0632649386.

In January the British School begins a series of exhibitions on the theme of Images and Memory, which depict Italy in the late 19th century through previously unseen photographs from its archive. The first event, Rome in the photographs of Peter Paul Mackey 1890-1901, runs 14 Jan-6 Feb and presents images taken by an English Dominican priest. Mackey came to the Eternal City in 1881 to study the works of St Thomas Aquinas and became fascinated by Roman ruins, attending excursions into the Roman Campagna organised by the British and American Archaeological Society and taking along his camera.

The 70 black and white prints to be displayed depict Rome immersed in the countryside, the citys ruins surrounded by vineyards and fields of artichokes in a landscape that is profoundly different to the one we see today little more than a century later. The exhibition will be open Mon-Fri 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-17.00. Sat-Sun 10.00-13.00.

British School at Rome, Via A. Gramsci 61, tel. 063264939.

l Finally, an exhibition devoted to illustrations inspired by Johann Wolfgang Goethes Faust at the Casa di Goethe has been extended and is now open to visitors until 9 Jan (closed 24-27 Dec). Faust was one of the most important dramas of German literature written over a period of nearly 60 years in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The story of the conjuror, who sold his soul to the devil, has a rich imagery that is reflected in the works on show here, by artists including Eugne Delacroix, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Max Beckmann and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Goethe. Faust. Illustrations is open Tues-Sun 10.00-18.00.

Casa di Goethe, Via del Corso 18, tel. 0632650412, www.casadigoethe.it.