Pompeii: The Exhibition opens at Arizona Science Center this week

Pompeii: The Exhibition opens at the Arizona Science Center this week. (submitted photo)

Nearly 2,000 years ago, one summer evening in Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius erupted, blanketing the Roman town in ash and rock.

This natural disaster which tragically took the lives of many of Pompeii’s inhabitants, also miraculously preserved it. The lost city was discovered in 1748 by a surveying engineer who found an entire microcosm of life in A.D. 79 frozen in time.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, a slice of Pompeii will be brought to life at Arizona Science Center.

Pompeii: The Exhibition, generously supported locally by APS, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and U.S. Bank, will run through May 28, 2018 at Arizona Science Center, giving the public an opportunity to immerse themselves in life in ancient Rome.

Tickets are on sale now at azscience.org/pompeii.

Sari Custer, vice president of curiosity at Arizona Science Center says the beauty of the exhibition may be a surprise.

“This is not rubble. It is truly history preserved. The setting is gorgeous,” she said in a prepared statement. “It feels like you are transported to another place – moved not just in time, but physically taken to the city of Pompeii, walking through the streets of the town before Mount Vesuvius erupted.”

In this blockbuster exhibition, guests will become time travelers, transported to the bustling commercial port and strategic military and trading center of Pompeii. Over 200 precious artifacts on loan from the unparalleled collection of the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy, including wall-sized frescoes, mosaics, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, statues and ancient Roman coins, will bring to life how Pompeii’s people lived, loved, worked, worshipped and celebrated.

In perhaps the most powerful portion of the exhibition, exquisite body casts of adults and children will vividly communicate the emotions of the victims.

Ms. Custer explains that the exhibition will give guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with hundreds of artifacts that have been unearthed and perfectly preserved from the ash-covered area.

“Each piece is exquisite,” she says, noting that one of the artifacts not to be missed is the statue of Caligula, the Roman emperor from AD 37 to AD 41.

Pompeii armor (submitted photo)

“The workmanship, the craftsmanship, and the condition of this piece is exceptional,” she said in a prepared statement.

Pompeii: The Exhibition will begin with a video that introduces Pompeii. Guests will then journey through the ancient city, where they will encounter a Roman villa, a market, temple, theater, and baths.

From there, they will witness the impact Mount Vesuvius had on this ancient city as they experience a simulated volcanic eruption in a 4D theater. The exhibition will culminate with the reveal of authentic full body casts of human forms, poignantly dramatizing the impact of the extreme heat and noxious gases that left them forever frozen in time.

A small, separate section of the exhibit will feature erotic art in a replica of a Pompeii brothel. Parental discretion is advised for this portion of the exhibition, which is not suitable for all ages.

In addition to history buffs, Ms. Custer says science nerds, art and jewelry lovers, and anyone interested in culture or a good time are encouraged to visit the exhibition.

“We are curious about things we don’t understand,” said Ms. Custer said in a prepared statement. “This exhibition is a perfectly preserved peek at a town that was literally buried under earth for 2,000 years.”

Pompeii: The Exhibition requires a timed-entry ticket. Advance purchase is highly recommended. Guests can purchase tickets online at azscience.org/pompeii, or in person at Arizona Science Center.

Tickets are $11.95 for adults and $9.95 for children (3–17). General Admission is required for non-members and is $18 for adults, $13 for children and $16 for seniors.

Arizona Science Center will also be hosting a lecture series with noted Pompeii experts. The series will kick off on Nov. 29, with the lecture Pompeii Uncovered: From the Ashes, featuring Dr. Michael Anderson, Associate Professor at San Francisco State University and Director of the Via Consolare Project, an archaeological research endeavor in Pompeii.

Additional lectures will include Pompeii Uncovered: Roman Arts, Eats and Entertainment, Jan. 24, 2018; Pompeii Uncovered: Roman Innovations, March 28, 2018; and Pompeii Uncovered: Ancient Sex, May 23, 2018.

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