Would it surprise you that I went to a museum and the most fascinating part was the museum label next to the artwork? The artifacts weren’t lacking in aesthetic beauty or hard to understand, but the translated description was much more moving.
I had a free day and Paul had to work so I decided to go out and see the Capitoline Museums or Musei Capitolini. The museums are two buildings connected to each other by an underground tunnel, which also holds an exhibit display. The museum’s collection focuses on antiquities; Roman, Greek, Egyptian – art, artifacts, jewelry, tombstones, and coins.
So I didn’t know there was an undergound that connected the two buildings until I left the museum! I didn’t find the museum map to be very clear and it was illustrated as if there was only one building! I ended up begging the door man to let me back in to see the second building.
In the first building I saw ancient jewelry. Still holds up!
This was an old marble floor from a really rich Roman guy’s mansion/palace.
This statue was sort of shocking to me, even though I live in a world where CGI is common place. The following is a museum label talking about why the sculpture is a mixture of purple-reddish marble and gray stone.
I thought this was a very creative way of ancient times to show “gore” – being flayed alive. Realistic and creepy!
The museum holds the only surviving bronze statue of a pre-Christian Roman emperor, that being Marcus Aurelius. The statue was first erected in 175 AD in Rome. The reason this is one of the few whole bronze statues to survive is because historically, they rarely survived. Turns out, it was a common practice to melt down bronze statues for reuse as coins or new sculptures in the late Roman empire. During medieval times these statues were further destroyed because Christians thought they represented pagan idols. Wikipedia tells me the statue may have escaped “melt down” because in the Middle Ages it was incorrectly thought to portray the first Christian Emperor, Constantine.
This statue is huge! I can imagine it appearing very overwhelming and important to an ancient Roman citizen.
Egyptian monkeys!!! They were delightful and I want one in a garden.
The second building was mostly sculptures. One side room was devoted to the “Capitoline Venus.” This gave me a whimsical feeling because a few years ago I’d seen this very same sculpture at the National Gallery in Washington DC. And now we were both in Rome! It was still just as beautiful. I was in there alone so of course I said “hello” and “goodbye” out loud to the statue. It’s safe to talk to art, I promise. A little more difficult to explain it if someone sees you.
But the final thrill was seeing what was hiding in the tunnel underground. On each side of the long hall way are grave markers from Ancient Rome. The carvings are interesting, but the most compelling part is on the museum label sitting next to each. Every label has a translation of what it says on the tombstone of the dead. Some of these really illustrated to me what their life was like; who they loved, how they lived their lives.
It’s as if they have escaped death and are the lucky few who get to be remembered by strangers on an afternoon in Rome.