My favourite things about Fantastic Feasts

By Riho Kojima

The Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities has been presenting new and exciting exhibitions every year. In 2019 the theme of the exhibition is Fantastic Feasts. The exhibition will give you an inside view on ancient food culture including kitchenware, common and luxury food items, decoration of tableware, the role of food in culture and religion and much more!

For the main part of the museum, they have pottery from almost all the eras from ancient to modern time, for instance,  geometric patterns from very early periods like 10th/9th century BCE, vases with general pictures of animals from 8th/7th century BCE, mythology based vases from 7th to 5th century BCE and even modern interpretations.

My favourite case in the exhibition is the one you see besides the entrance which shows the huge bowl of fermented fish sauce, stir-fried dormouse with sesame seeds and a stuffed rabbit with birds’ wings which resembles a pegasus.

Even without reading the description, this should be amusing enough to evoke a little laugh and lead visitors further into the exhibition. Staff said that they were a little nervous that some people might think this case is inappropriate. Personally I think a museum does not only need to be a place for serious study; it is always nice to have a little fun while you are engaging with learning!

One significant difference in this year’s exhibition is that there are a lot more interactive stations compared to the past exhibitions. This will make it easier for visitors to engage with the topic by comparing ancient life and their own life. For example, as soon as you walk in, you will see the three gorgeous ruby-red couches in the centre of the museum. This is a replica of a Triclinium (literally a three couch room) where Roman elites used to welcome their guests with their best wine. These couches would be a great area for discussion between visitors and staff like the Romans used to do. In addition, I would highly recommend you pick up the replica of the ancient wine cup from one of the couches and pretend to drink some wine from it. You will see why it has unique patterns that look like eyes on the outside of the cup rather than inside.

In one of the corners of the exhibition there is an activity space where you can work through questions on tiles that are perfectly pitched for beginners to engage with the classical world. You can compare costs of food ingredients based on your favourite dish between modern and ancient time, while you can learn a few words in Latin. The case that compares the cost of breads from each period of history was also really interesting. There are also labels in each of the cases which help you self-guide your experience in the Teece Museum, learning new and interesting facts about the objects as you walk around the exhibition.

The museum is open from 11am to 3pm, Wednesday to Sunday at the Arts Centre and this exhibition closes Sunday 23 February 2020. The Teece also hosts several kind of events, such as free public talks. The next one is on the evening of Friday 13 September, “Sappho, Satyrs, Socrates and Seduction”.

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