It has been a summer full of travel. I am grateful, but it has also taken me a while to transition back to reality between trips.
So when I took my kids to see Pompeii just last week, I was energized by the ability to get there and back in one day, and still see a truly fascinating bit of history.
That’s right – “Pompeii: The Exhibition” is on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles through January 4, 2015. For those of you visiting Los Angeles this summer, and for those of you looking for one last outing with your kids before school – or even on the weekend – this is one I recommend.
I realize I may be biased because I’ve been to the real city of Pompeii and am utterly amazed by the ruins, but I think this exhibition does a spectacular job of organizing the event in small rooms with engaging displays and audio guides that kept even a group of 8 kids interested…including one reluctant teenager.
Quick history lesson: In the year 79 AD Pompeii virtually disappeared beneath ash spewed by Mount Vesuvius. What is remarkable is that the town wasn’t dug up and rediscovered until the 1700s!!! The very same area that nature destroyed, it also preserved under thick layers of ash.
If you visit, you will be amazed at how well some things were preserved for so long. You will also be undoubtedly disturbed by the terror through which these residents lived in a short 24 hour period – in that many hours, nothing was left alive within a certain radius of the volcano.
On display are more than 150 artifacts straight from the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy, through which you will not only learn about the volcanic destruction, but life and customs in a Roman city. Much of what we know of the Roman Empire comes from the ruins of Pompeii.
You can see items once belonging to opulent villas….
.. Italian paintings, which emerged unscathed after an eruption that brought down buildings…
and mosaic floors that were still in their places.
But the most moving items were the casts made in the exact twisted and sometimes convoluted form of bodies that were found- exactly in the shape they took at the time of death. Sadly, many of the people perished from the immense heat and noxious gases that accompanied the eruption.
There is a great movie at the end of the exhibition that documents eruption day hour by hour …. and of course, a gift shop and play area at the final exit.
Tickets are available online – but you must purchase at least three hours before the time you’d like to go, otherwise buy in person and avoid the online service charge.