Roman Villa Museum
Amsterdam-based design agency Kossmanndejong opens a third museum at The Newt estate in Somerset. After designing a museum about gardening and another about bees, the Roman Villa Museum is now also open to the public. This brand-new Roman attraction consists of a new museum building and a life-size reconstruction of the villa that was recently unearthed at the estate. In the museum, you learn everything about Roman life in the English countryside. In the villa, you step into a time capsule: for a moment you are in the year 351 CE, at the height of the Roman Empire in Great Britain.
Robert van der Linde, creative director and partner at Kossmanndejong, was the project lead for these three assignments, which according to him show a new approach to leisure. ‘We see tourism and culture converging and adopting strategies from one another. The Newt is a new type of attraction where nature, hotel, restaurant and spa are complemented with cultural spaces for learning and self-development.’ The estate has been a place for leisure for several centuries, albeit much more exclusive in the past. In Victorian times, it was the private park of the Hobhouse family. Long before that, it was the country estate of a Roman family. The Roman Villa Museum is the capstone of the ambitious, multifaceted plan for this estate. Nature, culture and historical experience now seamlessly align to offer something for all types of visitors.
Kossmanndejong often works for cultural institutions, but this is a privately-funded project. Van der Linde: ‘The owner of this estate is very ambitious and involved, which makes this assignment so rewarding for us. We were able to collaborate with some of the best specialists in Europe when it comes to Roman history and archeology, which we think has greatly benefited the end result. We think the Roman Villa Museum will transport every visitor into the daily life of a British Roman in the fourth century, whether they are specialists or laymen, experienced visitors or teens who never go to museums. People who appreciate the entertainment value but miss the depth of content in an Instagram museum should definitely pay a visit.’
You can visit the Roman Villa Museum as a member or hotel guest at The Newt.
Photography: Thijs Wolzak