On display through Sept. 3, this touring exhibition plunges guests into the heart of the drama and the ruins of the city, but does so through the lens of science. While the volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 79 A.D. was catastrophic, it also petrified the environment in a way that allows guests to understand what life was like nearly 2,000 years ago. Guests can explore more than 100 unearthed items found during Pompeii archaeological excavations, including a large number on display for the first time in the United States.
“Sometimes there is a tendency to think that people living thousands of years ago weren’t technologically advanced or didn’t have a robust level of scientific understanding,” said Richard Conti, chief wonder officer. “This exhibition shows us that is not the case. It will leave guests in awe of Pompeian accomplishments.”
The exhibition introduces guests to architects, surveyors, craftsmen, artisans and engineers in a bustling Roman city full of life. The estimated 12,000 inhabitants were in the midst of rebuilding homes and businesses from a devastating earthquake that struck in 62 A.D. Cranes, scaffolding, winches, pulleys and stone-cutting tools tell the story of a vibrant city under reconstruction. Hydraulic metal valves, surveying instruments, glass windows, advanced warm-air heating systems and masterful aqueducts demonstrate technical expertise and an exceptional use of city planning. Surgical instruments, hunting practices and diversified agriculture techniques further reveal the botanical and biological scientific knowledge of Pompeii residents.
An immersive projection simulates the eruption of Vesuvius and its destruction in a unique and captivating way. At the end of the exhibition, guests can view two body casts created from some of the nearly 1,150 body imprint outlines unearthed since formal Pompeii excavations began in the 18th century.
First displayed in Brussels, Belgium in November 2017, few have had the chance to experience how this exhibition combines art, history and science to provide unprecedented insight into centuries-old innovation through this well-known natural disaster.
“Pompeii is more than a city destroyed by a volcano—it is a reminder of the power of human curiosity and innovation,” Conti said. “The eruption was only a small part of the fascinating and impressive Pompeii story. Guests will be surprised at how much this exhibition celebrates STEM. It will serve as another reminder that science is all around us, sometimes in surprising ways.”
The exhibition was developed and produced by TEMPORA in collaboration with Civita and Filmmaster based on the scientific research of Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli and Museo Galileo Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze and distributed by Exhibits Development Group. It is presented locally by Altria and sponsored locally by WestRock and Allianz Partners.
During the exhibition’s three-month run, the entire Museum will feature public programming to complement themes included in “Pompeii: The Immortal City.” Through special activities, public presentations and daily demonstrations, guests will be able to get hands with STEM concepts Pompeians applied in everyday life.
In addition, the giant-screen film “Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation” will be playing in the Dome every day starting June 1. With over 500 active volcanoes, Earth is bursting at the seams with volcanic energy that has created extraordinary ecosystems and wildlife habitats as well as devastated entire communities. The film is presented locally by Allianz Partners.
During regular Museum operating hours (9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week), admission to “Pompeii: The Immortal City” is available through a combination ticket that includes access to the exhibition as well as the Museum’s three floors of interactive exhibits.
Admission is $7 for Museum members; $25 for adults; $23.50 for youth (ages 6 – 12) and seniors (ages 60 and older); and $20 for preschool-aged children (ages 3 – 5). Dome tickets are additional. Discounts are available for teachers, military personnel, groups and EBT cardholders. Exhibition-only admission during Friday extended hours (June 14 – August 30, 5 – 8 p.m.) is $15.