Hands-on activity ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day!’ at National Museum of Archaeology/ Portugal at 19th to 30th April 2016

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ is a hands-on activity,  originally created for the Exemplary Unit Roman Figurative Mosaic, under the designation ‘Being Vitruvius’.

During this activity, visitors were invited to observe and get to know the Roman construction materials and methods. Its name was changed to adapt better to the Portuguese audiences, alluding to an old popular saying.

Taking advantage of the fact that the ‘Roman Figurative Mosaic’ is on display in the exhibition Europe through our objects and of the exhibition Roman Lusitania. Origin of two Peoples – on the Roman presence and influence in the territory of Lusitania – an activity was designed so that visitors could contact with some of the Roman building materials (from the National Museum of Archaeology collections).

Also, with the support of museum’s Library, visitors could also observe Roman engineering books and some textbooks on the subject. Keywords, drawings and tables helped the visitor to see and understand not only the origin of some words, as some construction techniques.

A special space in the museum entrance to perform this activity, where the EMEE team members and the museum’s technicians interacted with visitors, was created.

Unlike the usual exhibitions’ procedure, visitors were allowed to touch and handle these building materials. This factor led to interesting reactions among the visitors, some of whom were reluctant. However, most visitors found quite interesting the contact with the objects, being allowed to assess their texture and the weight, establishing analogies with construction materials used today.

Because the museum’s audiences are mostly foreign, it was possible to establish interesting relationships with the construction techniques currently used in different European countries and the world.

This activity also complemented school groups’ visits, realised by the Education Service of the museum, allowing students to contact with these building materials and to gather the resulting analogies with the Roman units of measurement and the current materials used.

This activity was originally designed for a special day, the 22th of April, the ‘Day of the National Museum of Archaeology’. Yet, it was brought forward to the 19th of April, covering the whole week, where several activities and events were held within the ‘International Day of Monuments and Sites’ and the ‘Day of the National Museum of Archaeology’. Given the way how the visitors welcomed it, the activity was extended by one week, ending at the 30th of April.

Considering the visitor’s reaction, it will surely be an activity to repeat!