Although it falls somewhat short of being “the most amazing journey you ever thought to make’ (as promised by the website), 3D Rewind is an entertaining little museum just a few steps from the Colosseum.
I imagine that it would be especially fun for kids. Not much in Rome is kid-friendly so that’s a big plus. Plus it’s air conditioned.
Once you pay the rather hefty entrance fee (15 Euros), they shepherd you into a room with a big map of the Colosseum, Circo Massimo and the area around the Forum plus some random mosaics ands etchings of Ancient Roman type stuff. The very friendly guide, who was wearing a lavender polyester toga, handed us an audio guide and a paper with some multiple choice questions on it. Questions like ‘What was the basic ingredient in the skin care products used by Roman ladies?’ Answer: lanolin. ‘What were the shape and dimensions of the toga, the famous Roman cloak?’ Answer: semicircular, 2.70 meters. The person in the group with the most correct answers would win a free copy of the Gladiator movie with Russell Crowe. I hate Russell Crowe but I figured that I’d do pretty well on the quiz, having been a classics major at university. Wrong! The audio guide promised that the answers to all the questions could be found around the room. There’s no way that was true. The website says that tours leave every 15 minutes. That’s not true either since we sat around for at least 30. As always, I had my trusty novel and there was air conditioning so I was happy enough.
Finally, they took us into a tunnel with some frescoes that led into a very dark room. When the lights came on they revealed that we were standing on a glass floor, underneath which was an apparent archeological dig of the under- chambers of the Colosseum. We could see where the gladiators ate and got dressed while the audio guide took us through an average day in the life of the Colosseum. In the background, ‘gladiators’ were murmuring prayers to the gods in Latin. Then a bunch of lights started flashing and the next thing you know, a digital lion was peering down at us from a window overhead. I think he was supposed to be in the arena. Luckily, a digital gladiator came along just in time and finished him off. Lame.
Next was the 3D film that took us through the streets of Ancient Rome with the help of our friendly guide Sapientinus. The film is set in 310 AD, shortly before Constantine came to power. Sapientinus is a bit of an idiot and the film is clearly made for a young audience – lots of things flying out into the audience and lots of gladiator fights – but I enjoyed it a lot. Rome was at the height of its urban development in 310 and it is fun to see what the Imperial Forum would have looked like at that time. The reconstruction is pretty historically accurate as it is based on UCLA’s Rome Reborn project, which developed a 3D digital model of the city in 2007 and 2008. The movie ends – bizarrely- with a plug for Gladiator, which is on sale in the gift shop.
After the film, we moved to the next part of the museum, which featured a talking portrait of Julius Caesar (who spoke in English and got very pouty when no one wanted to talk to him), a touch screen guessing game, wooden models of various ancient sites, togas and gladiator outfits for playing dress up and exhibits about gladiators, bronze making and Ancient Roman cosmetics and perfumes. The (human) guides were knowledgeable and very involved with the group. Kudos for that. I got my graded quiz back and suffice it to say that I am spared the sight of Russell Crowe’s smug fat face for the time being.
While I could have done without the lion stuff in the dark room, this was a pretty fun way to spend an hour. 3D Rewind is way less random than these sorts of exhibits often tend to be in Rome. A lot of care and scholarship clearly went into its preparation. And did I mention the air conditioning?