Rome, Sarajevo, Amsterdam, Alexandria: all Empire celebrates Augustus



On the 23 September 2014, after 2000 years from Augustus' death, 13 countries will meet in Rome, Amsterdam, Alexandria and Sarajevo, for the opening of an extraordinary exhibition, Keys to Rome: an original interactive journey to discover the city of Augustus and the Roman Empire, seen and experienced from its four corners, four fascinating venues, four cities on Roman culture.

"Keys To Rome" is a unique international exhibition, that, for the first time ever the 23rd of september, will be organized in parallel in four incredible locations: Rome, in the wonderful setting of the Imperial Fora Museum; Alexandria, in the amazing rooms of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina; Amsterdam, in the recently renovated Allard Pierson Museum; and Sarajevo, in the newly restored City Hall. "Keys To Rome"
is organized by the largest European network of excellence on Virtual Museums, V-MUST, coordinated by the Italian National Council of Researches.

The Augustan age is the main theme for the exhibition in Rome, named “Keys To Rome. The City of Augustus” that will be held in the Imperial Fora Museum. The exhibition in Rome is jointly organized by the Superintendency of the City of Rome and the Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage (ITABC) of CNR, within the communication programme of Rome and in occasion of the two-thousandth anniversary of the death of Augustus. It includes two interconnected and complementary sections focused on storytelling and on the description of most relevant Augustan places in the capital, hence the subtitle The city of Augustus.

The museum collection can be discovered, through a digital itinerary using computer graphics movies, natural interaction installations, multimedia and mobile applications. The journey will be guided by two storytellers, an old merchant and his nephew. They will be led to discover the secrets of the family through the objects owned by their ancestors, using the keys of Rome. 

In the Great Hall of the Imperial Fora Museum, a map of the city will give the visitor the feeling of "walking" within the city of Rome of two thousand years ago. The Forum of Augustus, the Mausoleum, the Ara Pacis and all the other monuments, will "emerge" from the map and tell their own story. Two busts of the great characters of the Roman Republic, will come to life and talk about the strategies and the historical events that have led to the rise of Augustus. Finally, video panels will illustrate the news on the latest scientific excavations, witnessing the ongoing research and the presence on the territory of archaeologists of the Superintendency of the City of Rome. is a Network of Excellence. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 2007/2013) under the Grant Agreement 270404. All multimedia technologies used within the exhibition, are the result of a four-years joint cooperation between researchers and developers of the V-MUST project. “Keys To Rome. The City of Augustus” is
the concrete result of this effort and it is posing itself as a prototype for the future, testifying the success of V-MUST.

Its aim was indeed to provide the heritage sector with the tools and support to develop Virtual Museums that are educational, enjoyable, long-lasting and easy to maintain. As an addition to the main exhibition, the “Digital Museum Expo” will be presenting workshops and examples of applications aimed at museum professionals and technologists. This expo will be open in Rome, within the Museum of the Imperial Forums, between the 24 and the 28 September 2014. It will be subsequently hosted in the other locations.


Museum Curators
Roma, Lucrezia Ungaro (dir. Imperial Fora Museum)
Alexandria, Mohamed Abd El- Maguid (dir. Library of Alexandria Museum)
Amsterdam, Wim Hupperetz (dir. Allard Pierson Museum)
Sarajevo, Adnan Muftarevic (dir. Museum of Sarajevo)

Digital Curators
Roma, Sofia Pescarin (Researcher, CNR ITABC)
Alexandria, Mohamed Farouk (Director Cultnat)
Amsterdam, Daniel Pletinckx (Dir. Visual Dimension)
Sarajevo, Selma Rizvic (Prof. ETF University)

Digital & physical combine at K2R, Sarajevo



City Hall Vijecnica, Sarajevo

Keys to Rome will be the first museum exhibition in Bosnia and Herzegovina that combines digital and physical exhibits.

The Keys to Rome exhibition in Sarajevo will be built around the remains from the Roman period in Cim near Mostar and Ilidža near Sarajevo. Interactive virtual environments of the Early Christian basilica from Cim and Roman villa and the thermal baths from Ilidža will be combine with physical exhibition of the remains from these sites kept in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Museum of Sarajevo.

For two years the experts from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering Sarajevo have worked with curators from two museums and members of the consortium on the design and implementation of the digital content for Keys to Rome, searching for the best way of enhancing the physical exhibition.

The most significant artifacts from the museum collections of this period have been digitized and included in the interactive quest that will be available to exhibition visitors in all four locations. It will enable them to understand the context of the Roman Empire and find out how the local traditions intertwined with the Roman influence in the region.

The Sarajevo exhibition will be located in the recently restored City Hall Vijecnica. It was initially the largest and most representative building of the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo. This magnificent building was constructed in a mixture of styles combining historicism and pseudo-Moorish styles. The hexagonal space of the main wing will accommodate the exhibits and adjoining digital setups.

Keys to Rome will be a valuable contribution to the permanent exhibitions of the museums involved and an exciting resource for their curators, which can be used to enhance their work in the future.

Roman gallery redesigned for K2R at Allard Pierson Museum



Visitors enjoy an exhibit at Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam (Image © Monique Kooijmans. All rights reserved.)

At Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, the Keys to Rome exhibition will focus on diversity and dynamics within the Roman Empire.

“The exhibition will show and compare Roman objects from three regions within the Roman Empire: Egypt, the Mediterranean and the Low Countries,” explains Museum Director Wim Hupperetz. “It focuses on 8 themes: food, housing, religion, funeral, appearance, army, leisure and trade. For each one, we have selected 3 key objects from the three regions.”

The exhibition is a pilot for the redesign of the Roman gallery at APM. It is built around a new approach to curation that focuses on the dynamic presentation of objects.

“The redesign will enable us to change the presentation to show more collections, update context information or integrate new technologies,” Hupperetz explains. "The development is done by the staff of the museum with the help of our partners at V-must and a group of interns."

This multi-disciplinary unit is made up of the following:

Project Management: Marian Schilder
Curators: Rene van Beek (Meditteranean/ classical archaeology), Branko van Oppen (Roman Egypt), Wim Hupperetz (provincial Roman archaeology/ Low Countries)
Interactives: Christie Ray (coordination/evaluation studies), Renee Meijer (interaction design), Dominique Rau (development RFID-infrastructure), Vincenzo Ria (archaeological content), Stan Verbeek (game design/3D modelling)
3D exhibition design: Theo Braams projecten
2D exhibition design: Mirjam Schlick, Extrablond
Communication: Jan Willem Overbeek
Construction: Rob Huygens, Wout Borst, Mario Westmaas
Publication coordination: Paulien Retel
Photography: Stephan van der Linden
Loans: Birgit Maas