At the foot of the student culture house (casa de cultura a studentilor), there is no clue where the exhibit is. You walk in, and you will probably be stopped by a caretaker (or porter, or security guard). You can ask the porter for directions, or you can run away scared. (It is best to ask a porter anyway, so they do not think that you are simply lost). Tell the caretaker that you want to go to the Roman exhibit, and they will probably point you in the right direction, upstairs.
When you reached the top, you will probably see no one there, other than the student selling tickets. Tickets at the door cost 25 lei. Online, they appear to be 30 lei or 20 for concessions. That is expensive for Cluj, but you can take photos.
Anyway, I peered in. I asked if this was the entire exhibit. I was told there were two rooms. I thought that I could probably see the entire exhibit without paying and entering. It was small.
Cluj has some nice small museums, but they do not always have English explanations of the museum pieces. Sometimes knowing Italian or Spanish can help visitors to understand Romanian, and sometimes there are tour guides that help explain things.
There are currently two small temporary exhibits where most of the pieces do have English explanations. One is the Ancient Egyptian exhibit at the History Museum, and the other is the Roman Empire – Conquering Technology exhibit at the student house.
Most museums have more than one exhibit. This was not a museum, it is a student house. I suppose like a students’ union building in the UK.
The price to enter the Roman Empire exhibit, for a single adult, is 25 lei. I let that sink in for a moment. The other exhibit I was considering going to that day costs 10 lei. But, with Langos in the Christmas market selling for 20 lei, I decided to give it a try.
Of the two rooms, one focused mostly on military technology used to expand the Roman empire and the other on technology that was used to build Rome and its roads.
You can learn how Romans build roads in a straight line, you see an abacus, and there is even a pulley that you can apparently use. (I assumed that it was all don’t touch until I saw a video on their Facebook page where kids get to try the pulley.)
I would recommend visiting the Facebook page before going in. But bear in mind that half of what’s on the Facebook page is not actually in the exhibit. There is an exhibit about ancient Dacia in Bucharest that I really want to go to now, it looks awesome.
Understanding ancient technology may be fun for a school trip. Maybe there is a group discount that you can arrange.
Now, if you are hoping to see the technology used during the conquest of Dacia, you might be disappointed. The weapons and armor on exhibit are dated from the Roman invasion of Gaul, over a century before Trajan was even born. That timespan is like the time between the American Revolution or the Battle of Waterloo to the Second World War. Instead, it seems like something right out of an Asterix film or the classic Sparticus film.
Apparently, the exhibit comes from Milan, so there are a couple of posters on the wall in Italian. There are also a few in Romanian without English translation. However, all the technology has a Romanian and English explanation.
The exhibition goes on until the 23rd of December, 2022.