Roman Villa Museum

The Newt in Somerset, Castle Cary (UK)

The Roman Villa Museum is centred around an excavation of a fourth-century Roman villa, on The Newt estate, in Somerset (United Kingdom). Only part of the remains of Villa Ventorum can be seen, the rest is hidden underground. A new, modern museum building was built hovering above the excavation, offering a spectacular way to see the inside.

In addition to an informative museum filled with original objects, there is a historical reconstruction of Villa Ventorum. This reconstruction is unique in the world, as it is made with authentic materials and techniques. The museum shows objects from the time of the Romans in England. When designing the interactives for this exhibition, we had to deal with very specific requirements regarding the priceless, century-old objects and the brand-new building. This made the assignment a real challenge.

Interactive learning about life in Roman times

Roman Museum contains a huge number of interaction points. The aim is for visitors to intuitively operate the various screens and play interactive games. In doing so, they experience how the British Romans lived. We created the interaction design to ensure visitors can navigate through the (limited) space in a logical way. And everything works in close interaction with the 3D headphones from USOMO. This allows the interactives to be executed in all desired languages.

Touchscreen interactives without text

An additional challenge was to create all touchscreen interactives without text. All interaction points can be initiated by touching a light ring, which is integrated into a custom-built module and contacts the YIPP server via the network. This module, which is featured 70 times, is a collaboration between YIPP, Fiction Factory, Mansveld, and kossmann.dejong.

The experience: 1700 years back in time

Our interactive design allows visitors to learn about the Roman villa and everyday life in the fourth century AD in very different ways. There is a beautiful Roman mosaic piece on display, but you can also get married or divorced the Roman way. By choosing 'marry' or’ divorce' you get to hear information about this practice in Roman times. And you seal the deal with a handshake, just like the Romans did.

A Roman skeleton teaches visitors about healthcare and burial traditions in the fourth century. Use a brush to wipe away the sand on the transparent touch screen and expose the skeleton. Each section contains information about the topic in question.

Various aspects of British Roman life are discussed. Go through a Roman trial and decide the fate of the defendant. Experiment with Roman hairstyles on yourself and design your own coin with your face on it! An interactive screen allows visitors to remove the body hair of a Roman person. This teaches you about the fashion of body hair and how the Romans dealt with it. You can create your own fresco and learn about this art form and the materials the Romans used to create it.

Throughout your visit, you will learn about food, trade, religion, fashion: everything that the British Romans used to consider important and experienced throughout their lives.

Do you want to know more about the Roman Museum or can we help you with a similar project? Please contact Wouter Verbiest (wouter.verbiest@yipp.nl).

The Times Magazine – 03-06-2022
How to build a Roman villa in the Somerset countryside

Read about the architecture:
Stonewood design