Tag Archives: #STEM

Arrivederci Roma!

All good things must come to an end.

Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World at the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum in Cairns has closed. After a short eight-week season, the internationally acclaimed exhibition was enjoyed by 9815 people from Far North Queensland and beyond.

Each week on average 1227 visitors came on their own or with their partners and kids, parents and grandparents, in large and small families and in groups. School students came with their teachers and engaged in conversations about the many astonishing legacies of the mighty Roman empire.

Congratulations on the success of Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World and our sincere thanks to the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, the Cairns Italian Festival and our Official Drive Partner, SEW-Eurodrive.

Please subscribe to the Artisans of Florence International newsletter for updates on all our touring exhibitions.

Ancient Roman road map

Before Tripadvisor, and even before the Michelin Guide, the ancient Romans had the Tabula of Peutinger.

The Tabula of Peutinger (also known as Tabula Peutingeriana) is one of the world’s oldest maps. Rather than being to scale and of true cardinal orientation, this map is more of a road map or traveller’s guide to the known Roman world at the height of its expansion in the late 3rd century AD.

Intended for use by government officials, the map contains useful information about state-run facilities and key points of interest throughout the Empire. Made up of 11 original segments it is the result of successive copies and overprints carried out at various times from several ancient originals.

Historians believe the oldest sections of the map date back to before 79 AD, the year that Pompeii was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’ most devastating eruption.

A stunning facsimile is on display at the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum as part of the Cairns Italian Festival.

Da Vinci in Las Vegas

When in the 15th Century a young Leonardo da Vinci discovered fossilized shells, whale and fish bones in mountain caves in the north Italian Alps he questioned the prevailing Judeo-Christian worldview of his time. Da Vinci is famous for his exquisite paintings and during his lifetime was sought after as a military engineer and inventor. His anatomical drawings are so precise that they are still being used by medical students 500 years later.

A new exhibition at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum brings to light the lesser-known brilliance of da Vinci’s discoveries in geology and paleontology.

The claim that fossils were swept there by the biblical flood is a completely inadequate explanation. So the surface of the earth has changed over time, with land where once there was sea.

J.Jones, Leonardo da Vinci’s earth-shattering insights about geology, theguardian.com, 23/11/2011

Here is a sneak preview of Da Vinci Machines & Robotics, the acclaimed traveling exhibition that explores and connects da Vinci’s studies in nature, anatomy, mechanics, flight and robotics.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum until 10 September 2022.
Book tickets online

Check out the installation in this 2 minute timelapse video.

Thanks to our Official Drive Partner SEW-Eurodrive

The Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World exhibition, sponsored by SEW-Eurodrive, opened at the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum in Cairns to great fanfare.

The internationally acclaimed exhibition by the Artisans of Florence International invites visitors to travel 2000 years back in time when massive construction and large-scale technological innovation led to the largest globally-integrated economy the world had ever seen.

The Artisans of Florence International’s founding Director, Luigi Rizzo, took the opportunity to thank Official Drive Partner SEW-Eurodrive during the official launch of the exhibition on 9 June which was attended by Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development, Michael Healy MP and Cairns Regional Councillor Rhonda Coghlan.

Mr Rizzo said “it is thanks to the continued support of SEW-Eurodrive that our exhibitions are able to be enjoyed by thousands of people, young and old, across remote and regional Australia. It is heartening, and rewarding, to partner with people who share our vision and our passion.”

The exhibition is presented by the Cairns Italian Festival as a key event that celebrates and showcases Italian culture. The exhibition is a partnership between the Museum, which houses the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere, and the inaugural festival committee.

Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World is on until 7 August 2022.

For tickets and information visit: Cairns Italian Festival

As precise as a Roman water clock

The ancient Romans shaped the modern world as much through their way of thinking as through their military ambition, most notably their need for precision in all things. At night, when sundials were of no use, the Romans harnessed the power of water to measure time.

On display in the exhibition, Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World is a water clock made of wood and brass.

Historians believe the earliest known time-measuring instruments of this kind were Clepsydrae and used by the Ancient Greeks. However there is evidence that they existed even earlier in Babylon, Egypt and Persia around 1600 BC.

The 12-hour water clock divides the 24 hours of the day into two periods. An intricate device with numerous chambers, it keeps the water flow constant and is calibrated to take into account the different hours of sunlight in winter and summer. The terms ante meridiem ‘before midday’ and post meridiem ‘after midday’ are still in use today.

See this and many other objects from the ancient Roman empire that shaped our modern world and marvel at their long-lasting legacy.

Presented by the Cairns Italian Festival and The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, Ancient Rome is showing until 7 August, 2022.

Australian Armour and Artillery Museum
2 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield, Queensland
Open 7 days, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Tickets to see Ancient Rome include free entry to the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere.

Tickets can be purchased online and at the Museum.

The Cairns Italian Festival continues with a wide range of events from 28 July – 6 August 2022.

Photo courtesy of WA Maritime Museum. Ancient Rome: Epic Innovators & Engineers, June – October 2020

Did you know the Romans invented concrete?

Concrete and the road-building technology used to build the Roman Empire’s famous roads are just part of the ancient civilization’s astonishing legacy.

It is remarkable how people who lived 2000 years ago have influenced our science, art, engineering, architecture and culture and also our ways of thinking.

From 8 June the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, Cairns, will host the internationally acclaimed interactive exhibition Ancient Rome: The Empire that shaped the world.

Travel back in time when massive construction and large scale technological innovation led to the largest globally-integrated economy the world had ever seen. Be prepared to learn something new and unexpected about ancient Rome, contemporary society and human nature.

Highlights include:

  • Six metre long timeline spanning over 1000 years from Republic to Empire
  • Learn about military strategy, unprecedented logistics and communications
  • Get up close to gladiators’ armour, swords and shields
  • Discover the secrets of the Colosseum

The family-friendly exhibition is presented by the inaugural Cairns Italian Festival and the Museum.

Tickets to Ancient Rome include free entry to the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere.

8 June – 7 August 2022
Australian Armour & Artillery Museum
2 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield, Queensland
Open 7 days, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Tickets can be purchased online and at the Museum.

The Cairns Italian Festival continues with a wide range of events from 28 July – 6 August 2022.

Photo courtesy of WA Maritime Museum. Ancient Rome: Epic Innovators & Engineers, June – October 2020

How was Easter celebrated in the Roman Empire?

Many of our religious celebrations and secular holidays can be traced back to practices and traditions in Ancient Rome and earlier cultures. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that it was Emperor Constantine (272 – 337AD) who decided when Easter should be celebrated.

In the Christian religious tradition, Easter marks the crucifixion of Jesus, the son of God, on Good Friday and his resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday. Although there is speculation among historians about how the Jewish festival of Passover became the basis for the Christian festival of Easter, the intriguing connection is no coincidence.

The Exodus, when God liberated the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, is said to have taken place sometime between 1450 and 1270 BC. The annual festival of Passover (Pesah/Pesach) has been celebrated in March or April ever since. This means that it would have been a long-held tradition when the new religion of Christianity came along with the birth, and death, of Jesus.

Emperor Constantine, who was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, felt that Easter should not be linked to a festival belonging to a different religion. He decreed that Easter should take place on the first Sunday following the first new moon in Spring – which is why Easter varies every year, sometimes at the end of March and in other years, towards the end of April.

Justinian I (left, holding a model of Hagia Sophia) and Constantine the Great (right, holding a model of the city of Constantinople) presenting gifts to the Virgin Mary and Christ Child (centre), mosaic, 10th century; in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. © Joel Carillet—iStock/Getty Images

Learning should be fun!

Education experts and historians may be able to shed some light on what stage in the evolution of Western civilisation we started to think that learning is a serious affair and somehow separate from playing

This distinction is as misguided, and as unhelpful, as the distinction between the processes that lead to scientific discovery and those that are deployed when creating art.

In the late 1990s, the Harvard Business Review reported on trends that saw businesses stage experiences that would engage customers in their target markets in novel ways in order to sell more of their goods and services. The appeal of immersive experiences and interaction that the business community learned from the world of theatre and theme parks would become known as the Experience Economy.

The packaging of multi-sensory experiences, however, is nothing new to the cultural sector.

Those working in museums, science centres and galleries understand that visitors are curious creatures, seeking an opportunity to learn, be inspired by an encounter of an aesthetic kind, or enter a world different from their own for a brief period of time.

In these ways, a visit to a place of learning offers us the same joy of discovery that travel provides us. 

In the case of the internationally renowned Da Vinci Machines exhibition, visitors travel back in time to the Renaissance when innovation and creativity in the arts enabled a scientific revolution. By interacting with the functioning models constructed from Leonardo’s drawings, visitors gain a rare glimpse inside the mind of the genius polymath.

There are many ‘a ha’ moments in this exhibition and the Discovery Centre Bendigo has scheduled a number of events that will enhance the experience and make it even more enjoyable and memorable. These include Mona Lisa and Merlot to have fun as you learn to paint your own masterpiece, and Taste of Italy to learn about the history of Italian Renaissance art as you sample wines from acclaimed Heathcote wineries.

A young visitor learning how ball bearings reduce friction, a principle of science that is integral in the efficient functioning of machines to this day. Photo courtesy of Discovery Centre Bendigo, March 2022

The role of imagination in science

Albert Einstein may, or may not, have said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

A century ago the American philosopher, logician, mathematician and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce wrote that inductive and deductive reasoning on their own never led to a new idea. He warned us that by analyzing the past, and crunching numbers to predict the future, we are doing nothing more than extrapolation. If we stick to measuring what we can already measure, we cannot create a future that is different from the past.

Since Archimedes, we have taken comfort in following the Scientific Method; namely systematic observation and experimentation, inductive and deductive reasoning, and the formation and testing of hypotheses and theories. What has been less understood is the role of the imagination in science.

Without imagination, science would never ever have existed. Imagination and innovation are key to achieving change.

As the past few years of the Covid-19 pandemic, a global climate in crisis, and political upheavals have demonstrated, our understanding of the world, and our role in it, needs to change. We turn to our heroes Archimedes, Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo Galilei to celebrate how their imagination and creativity enabled them to see things differently. They understood that everything is connected to everything else, made it possible to see the invisible, applied knowledge from one field to another to generate new knowledge, and had the courage to not give up if their experiments failed.

We have so much to learn from them.

Photo: Galileo: Scientist, Astronomer, Visionary, Waikato Museum, Hamilton NZ, 2021

Critical Thinking, Science and Art

Raphael’s masterpiece, The School of Athens (1509 – 1511) is a who’s who of influential philosophers, mathematicians and scientists spanning 2000 years of Western civilisation.

With Plato and Aristotle as the central figures, the iconic fresco has come to symbolise the connections between art, philosophy and science. Framed by the impressive arch and dwarfed at the feet of the marble statues are Pythagoras, Euclid, Ptolemy, along with a “cameo” self-portrait of Raphael himself.

Creativity and innovation require what in modern times have been separated and labelled as science and art.

Critical thinking and problem-solving are as much prerequisites in the field of arts practice as they are to scientific inquiry.

The iterative nature of the scientific method relies on the imagination. Breakthroughs in science seem to happen out of the blue, but they never are. They are the result of deep thinking, acute observation, meticulous measurement, and rigorous experimentation.

This realisation now seems revolutionary but 500 years ago Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo knew it. Galileo too couldn’t have made his breakthrough scientific discoveries without it. Over 2000 years ago Archimedes taught us the importance of inventing experiments to test hypotheses.

The School Of Athens by Raphael Sanzio da Urbino is located inside the Stanza della Segnatura on the second floor of the Vatican Palace, Rome.