If you have time for it spend half a day or so in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum (Rhineland Provincial Museum), which abounds with antiquities from the Stone-age, Celtic, Merovingian, medieval era, but especially it has the richest collection of Roman finds in Germany.
the rheinisches landesmuseum is one of the most significant archaelogical museums in germany. the museum has an excellent collection of roman sculpture and mosaics. the top two attractions of the museum are the neumagen burial monument and the neumagen wine boat.
The museum is not limited to the Roman period but is the repository of much other older and more recent material, such as pieces salvaged from destroyed churches or others replaced with copies and now protected from pollution here, both Romanesque and Baroque. Note the quality of the carvings of the original figures from the balustrade and garden of the Electoral Palace. Some of the Neumagen boat figures are in the round and so it is not surprising that a few early statues were also found which may or may not have had their origins as tombs.
Most medium-size and larger European cities have been sites of civilization back into prehistoric times and the more Southern ones have also been centers of the Roman Empire. The 20C century has accidentally revealed a great many new archeologic finds due to bomb-holes, deep excavation for the foundations of tall buidings and underground parking or subways. Some cities already had places to exhibit these items and many have been inspired to make new ones or expand old ones. This museumwas built in 1889 as a manifestation of Prussian pride and was most recently expanded and modernized in 1983 with modifications thereafter. Next year it will participate with other venues in Trier (June2-November4, 2007) to exhibit items from many outside collections about Constantine the Great who was resposible for much of Trier’s Roman prominence. Since the entrance is no longer on the facade, I did not take a picture there (there are a couple in VT) but only of the courtyard in its center. The approach is through the Garden of the Electoral Palace and an opening in the 12C Medieval city wall. The collection contains 180 or more Roman mosaics and many tomb sculptures, but much more due to deposition of items from the surrounding area which has no way to preserve or exhibit them. Judicious sales, exchanges and purchases have also helped, so there is much to see. Interpretive constructions and labelling also help the viewer. If you have the time, it is worth a visit. There are others Tips that follow.
The mosaics in the museum are all originally floor pieces and are shown to advantage in proper dim lighting from below, up close or from a balcony. They are mostly from the Constantine period (early 4C) There are also examples of Roman fresco wall painting. Immediately after this period Christian churches in Rome displayed figurative and narrative mosaics: S.M.Maggiore in the 5C and in nearby S.Costanza and S.Pudenza in the 4C. (There are only mosaics but no paintings in S.Peter in the Vatican).
Mosaic is one of the oldest crafts and ascends to art. It is the most durable of visual expressions and is stable and cleanable. A few magnificent crude examples (Ur 2500BC) exist but it became widely used in late Hellenic and Roman decoration. Roman floorwork exists all over the Empire; for the most part geometric with rare figures. Although derived from sketches and patterns, these stable sources themselves were a fruitful source for medieval art.
Not only are there mosaics but wall frescos as well.
A group of talented local workers arose during the 3C who infused the old models with life and local activities (of great sociologic value). The original stones were recovered from the foundations of an old “castle” and its environs in Neumagen, downriver about 36 km. Art experts now call this the “Neumagen school” and these exhibits are illustrated in texts. The wineboat is impressive as well as detailed (like a Bayeux tapestry scene), the school scene is alive with 2 students ( one arriving late?) and their attendant seated in the corner. Do not miss these! ( A model of a Roman fort like the one at Neumagen of this period is in the next room).
As Trier became a prosperous and growing Roman city during the 2C AD, the enthusiasm for ostentatious funeral monuments expanded. It was an indicator of family wealth and pride. The earliest ones were small and imported but local production arose and improved until it was terminated by the barbarian invasions. This pattern is typical in all parts of the Empire and we have seen similar museum displays in Lyon and Arles. After a gap of 500 years it is a mystery as to how sculpture again emerged, very little of what we now see was available as models then. Much of what is here has been found in unearthed old foundations where these stones served as quarry material. The exhibit is laid out like an old Roman roadside cemetery (with a nice illustrative model to show the intent ). Some of the exhibits include restoration of the color used originally. Take in as much as you can of this feast!
Landesmuseum takes us through the history from the Stone Age and forward. It shows some 3.000 exhibits like the Wine Ship from Neumagen (one of my other tips). The museum has recently been re-opened and uses now the latest technique. Audio guide is included in the entry price.
The link posted will get you to a site in German.
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10..00 - 17.00, closed Monday
Admission: adult 6 Euro, children 6 - 18 years 3 Euro.