Renaissance of the historic model of Rome!

25th of October 2018

Films, 3D animation, apps and virtual reality are just some aspects of the amazing interactive and immersive experience that will be available for visitors to the unmissable model of Antique Rome at the Museum of Art and History, in time for the start of the 2019 academic year. The restoration of the model’s exceptional son et lumière will associate new technologies with the preservation of one of our remarkable works of heritage, thanks to support form the Alexis Liénard Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. The first phase of the project began this week with an impressive cleaning operation.

Patronage for our heritage and education

In order to restore this exceptional educational tool, the Alexis Liénard Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, has agreed to finance the totality of the son et lumière restoration, estimated to cost €200,000. The aims of the Alexis Liénard Fund are to contribute, through all types of relevant activities, to quality teaching of Latin and Greek in Belgium.

Remarkable heritage

A real monument in itself, the model is also exceptional because of its rarity. The architect Paul Bigot made four examples of the model at the start of the 20th century, only two of which have been preserved: his own preparatory model (now at Caen University) and the model in Brussels. The latter is the only one to have been coloured and exhibited in an important national museum. Measuring 11 x 4 metres, the plan in relief at 1/400, is a key part of any school visit to the Museum of Art and History. Moreover, the model provides an excellent pedagogical tool not just for schools, but also for students in architecture and archaeology. Representing the city of Rome at the end of the 4th century, at the height of its monumental splendour, the model exhibited at the Art and History Museum is one of the key exhibits in the classical antiquities section and is admired every year by tens of thousands of visitors from across the world.

Modern technologies

Despite its remarkable state of conservation, restoration work on the model, but above all on how it is exhibited, is imperative today. The innovative restoration of the son et lumière will cover the transformation of the lighting and projection systems, but also the installation of new technologies. The aim is to satisfy the needs of a public that is now accustomed to modern technologies and to offer visitors an interactive experience based on films, apps and 3D animation linked to the town planning of Ancient Rome as well as to spectacular recent discoveries.

Top-to-bottom cleaning

Prior to starting work on the restoration, a photogram (scan) had to be made, but this requires thorough cleaning of the model. The cleaning, which began this week, also necessitated some impressive preparation: scaffolding had to be erected on each side of the model so as to hold a plank some 50cm above. Lying on the plank, the restorers use brushes to clean every nook and cranny of the model. Once cleaning has been completed, the photogram can be made. Restoration work as such will begin at the end of 2018 and last around eight months, during which time the model will be the focus of attention for numerous experts.