The Museum of London gets set to launch Our Londinium 2012 in new Roman gallery

By Ruth Hazard | 16 March 2012
A picture of a pen drawing of a roman soldier helmet on an orange background
Exhibition: Our Londinium 2012, Museum of London, 22 June 2012-2014

If you’ve ever wondered what the capital city was really like in the Roman era then the Museum of London is here to help.

Part of the Cultural Olympiad programme, Our Londinium 2012 will involve a reinvention of the museum's Roman gallery by young people from Junction, the Museum’s youth panel.

In what will be the largest update to the space since it opened in 1994, the exhibition will draw parallels between Roman London and the city today.

The installations are set to range from multimedia displays to rarely seen Roman artefacts.

A pen drawing of an open laptop computer on a purple background
A bust of Hadrian found on the Thames foreshore, will be on show for six months before being replaced by a replica.

In addition modern objects will help to demonstrate the similarities and differences between Londinium and London.

Representing the modern capital will be decorative acrylics from Dalston’s WAH Nails.

Shown alongside their Roman counterparts, these show how Londoners in both eras have used fashion to express their identity.

Also shown will be the ‘V for Vendetta’ masks worn by protesters in the Occupy movement and placards from the recent ‘March for the Alternative’ to offer an insight into issues of power and authority, past and present.

 “Many visitors to the Museum want to know whether Roman London was very different from London today or more similar than we imagine,” says co-curator Lucie Fitton.

“The answer is a bit of both.

a pen drawing of a roman urn on a blue background
“Roman era Londoners ate local, organic food just like the growing trend today. They also ate fast food too, but for very different reasons. They were motivated by a lack of domestic cooking facilities.

“The range of languages and belief systems in Londinium was not dissimilar from modern London, but the question prevails about whether London has become more or less tolerant of the differences.

“This and many more topics are discussed in Our Londinium 2012 and I’m confident that all the visitors to the gallery will enjoy discovering more.”

A key feature to the exhibition is that it is being curated by ‘Junction’; a youth panel composed of 50 young people aged 16 to 21.

Worked with Museum of London staff, the participants chose objects, wrote text panels, commissioned artworks and even appointed Olly Gibbs, the illustrator responsible for the exhibition’s visual identity.

a pen drawing of a hi top trainer shoe on a green background
Other installations within Our Londinium 2012 are the result of community projects with young people from partner organisations.

These include a pupil referral unit, an adolescent mental health service, an organisation that works with unemployed youths and a young offenders facility.

“Our Londinium 2012 is an impressive project and every single member of Junction should be proud of their achievement,” says David Spence, Director of Programmes at the Museum.

“It also represents something more important about the function of a modern museum and the role it can play within a community.

“At a time when young people are struggling to find jobs, to know that at least two members of the scheme have been offered full time a job as a result of their participation is a great testament to the project.”

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