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Tongeren: ‘Antiquity in Colour’ is a must see-exhibition at the Gallo-Roman Museum

11:53 01/04/2024

Famed as the oldest city in Belgium, Tongeren boasts a long and illustrious history. The former Roman administrative capital draws on its ancient heritage at the Gallo-Roman Museum, a highlight of any visit.

Not only is it the prime archaeological museum in Flanders, it is the only Belgian museum ever to win the most important European museum prize, ‘The European Museum of the Year Award’.

The Gallo-Roman Museum’s current exhibition Antiquity in Colour takes visitors on an immersive journey into ancient Greek and Roman culture.

De oudheid in kleur - krijgers

You are probably familiar with the white marble statues from classical antiquity. But did you know that the ancient Greeks and Romans painted them colourfully, from head to toe? In this fascinating exhibition you will experience how the sculptures appeared to Greek and Roman eyes.

How were they painted in classical antiquity? German archaeologists Prof Dr Vinzenz Brinkmann and Dr Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann have been researching this question for years. Together they have made dozens of full-size reconstructions, faithful to the techniques of the time. The colourful statues of emperors, gods, and mythological figures have travelled the world, captivating  hundreds of thousands of viewers. Now these statues can be seen in Tongeren in the Gallo-Roman Museum.

A visit to the exhibition constitutes an immersive experience and an educational journey of discovery. In videos you can learn how the ancient Greeks and Romans made their sculptures, from cutting and filing to painting.  You will also learn about the pigments: ochre, lead white, Egyptian blue, that the ancient artists used. An audio tour gives additional explanations about the meaning and symbolism of these classical era statues. 

Kindvriendelijk - atelier De oudheid in kleur

The exhibition is of particular interest to children. There is a special audio tour with information tailored to 7- to 12-year-olds. Computer games with puzzles and drawing exercises encourage them to explore the colours and decorations used in the reconstructions. 

Antiquity in Colour, running until 2 June, constitutes a collaboration of the Gallo-Roman Museum with Germany’s Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung Frankfurt am Main.

This extraordinary exhibition really is a must-see experience for visitors of all ages.

Tourism in Tongeren


There are plenty of other attractions in the city that fuel Tongeren’s reputation as one of Limburg’s leading tourist destinations. Among them are the many Roman relics, the magnificent basilica and the beautiful beguinage. In the Teseum museum you can explore the splendid story of religious art treasures, discover underground archaeological secrets and climb the basilica tower. And in the town square you can discover the imposing statue of Tongeren’s most notorious native, Ambiorix, King of the Eburones (pictured).

Antique market

Antique market

Tongeren’s lively antique market has been drawing crowds from the whole of the Benelux region and neighbouring Germany for almost 50 years. Every Sunday, several hundred dealers set up their stalls, filled with furniture, glassware, silverware, pottery, old postcards, vinyl LPs, antique toys and collectors’ items. It’s fun to wander around listening to the multilingual haggling over the price of a rococo table or Art Nouveau lamp. If you’re looking to furnish your home with the odd vintage treasure or original item, this could be the perfect place to start.

Foodie capital


Another attribute for Tongeren is its reputation for warmth and hospitality. Belgium’s oldest town is fast becoming a mecca for gourmets thanks to the talent of its chefs. Many are turning to local produce when applying their technique and creativity to original dishes and menus. Visitors are spoilt for choice with a generous choice of welcoming eateries, bars and cafes. You can also pick up some local ‘terroir’ products during your visit, such as beer, wine, spirits, traditional biscuits, syrups and jam.

More information about the Gallo-Roman Museum and it’s exhibition Antiquity in Colour (

More information on what to see and do in Tongeren here (

campaign image Antiquity in colour


Written by The Bulletin in association with Stad Tongeren