Exact replicas of many Roman relics — along with a few real artifacts — will be on display through July at the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Exact replicas of many Roman relics — along with a few real artifacts — will be on display through July at the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Photo provided by Kristen Bujold, of Siren Public Relations

‘Rome’ around Cranbrook’s newest exhibition featuring the ancient world

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 12, 2018

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — When at Cranbrook, do as the Romans do.

Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Well, it is now that the Cranbrook Institute of Science has opened its newest exhibition, “Ancient Rome: Age of the Caesars,” which will run through July 3 in the museum’s traveling exhibition hall.

The collection comprises detailed replications and real artifacts to give visitors an in-depth look at what life and technology were like in the age made famous by Julius Caesar, centurions and, of course, those signature columns and arches.

Anthropology Coordinator and Museum Educator Cameron Wood said the journey highlights four aspects of the ancient world: engineering and construction advancements, military prowess, travel, and leisure and entertainment. Yep, you guessed it: That means gladiators.

There are aspects of the exhibit to amuse and enlighten people of all ages, Wood added, particularly the hands-on elements.

“Kids are always going to love the play areas. There’s no two ways about that. And that’s OK, because that’s how the young set learns,” he explained, noting that children’s activities include a catapult challenge, colosseum construction with 3-D printed pieces, abacus arithmetic, ancient Roman games and more. “Adults, you know the arms and armor are always flashy. I got in touch with a Roman re-enactor in Philadelphia who lent us some equipment people can try on when docents are available.”

When guests aren’t capturing the perfect selfie in Roman warrior attire, they might be interested in learning about what developments the ancient world created that we still use today.

“Everybody’s car has an odometer. I learned while I was putting this together about the Roman odometer, which basically had gears tied to a wheel that would drop a stone into a basin when the wheel had rotated the equivalent of what we know as a mile, and it would give (people) an accurate measure of distance when traveling from place to place,” Wood said.

Roman engineers and tinkerers also made major contributions of advanced architecture and building to the ancient world, with many advancements still used today. Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” drawing is a nod to Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio, whose work is highlighted in the exhibition.

By coincidence, when the current exhibition moves on this summer, it will be followed at Cranbrook by a salute to Da Vinici’s work during “Da Vinci Machines and Robotics,” slated to open at the end of July.

But Da Vinci can wait his turn while the Caesars have their moment.

“This exhibit provides families with a rare and unique look into ancient Rome and how its inventions impacted the world we live in today,” Institute Director Dr. Michael Stafford said in a prepared statement. “Adults can experience the feeling of being a Roman legionnaire, interact with and use functional antique Roman technology, and children will be enamored with the games, hands-on activities and the indomitable gladiators.”  

“Ancient Rome: Age of the Caesars” will cost an additional $6-$8 with general admission during all normal museum operating hours.

For more information, visit science.cranbrook.edu. The Cranbrook Institute of Science is located at 39221 Woodward Ave. in Bloomfield Hills.