You probably know them—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.

Not white, but many-coloured

How were white marble sculptures 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 the of hundreds of thousands of viewers. Now these statues can be seen in Tongeren.

An immersive experience

A video installation takes you into the exhibition. You discover how often we come across those white marble sculptures—in museums, gardens, films, and comics.
A little further on, you will see three life-size, authentic statues. The masterpieces are powerfully displayed in a white glossy space. There is a film, showing atmospheric images of a marble quarry near Carrara, Italy.
In another room yourself in the courtyard of a house in ancient Greece. At the center is a statue of a young woman, painted in dreamy pastel colours. Projections create a play of light and dark.

Educational journey of discovery

The path through the exhibition is clearly marked. Object labels are concise.
In videos you can see how the ancient Greeks and Romans made their sculptures, from cutting and filing to painting. There are many authentic tools in the display cases. 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 that the statues had in classical antiquity. Screens give you an insight into their excavation history, scientific research, and reconstruction techniques.

Fascinating and fun for children

There is a special audio tour for your children, with information tailored to 7- to 12-year-olds. Computer games with puzzles and drawing exercises encourage them to explore the colours and decorations on the reconstructions. Children are also briefly introduced to the work of the quarry workers, sculptors, and painters of that time.
On sundays and schoolholidays (Flanders) there is a creative workshop. This is included in the entrance fee. During this workshop, your children are invited to be inspired by the patterns on the sculptures. They can make their own design on a marble tablet and then colour it in. You can of course take the result home with you.

Moving statues … in bronze

One of the highlights of the exhibition are the reconstructions of some famous bronze sculptures: two ancient Greek warriors and a pair of statues known as The Boxer and the Prince.
Those bronze sculptures looked more colourful in classical antiquity than you think. Gemstones served as eyes, while lips, nipples and eyelashes were finished with copper, and teeth with silver. The bronze sculptures are at least as surprising as the colourful marble statues.


The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung Frankfurt am Main.  

Adults and children

October, 21 – September, 1

Dutch, French, Englisch

90 min. on average


Bart Demarsin
Head of Exhibitions Department
+ 32 12 67 03 56