CINCINNATI - On August 24, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted for the first time in 1,700 years. The force of the explosion was ten times more powerful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The people of Pompeii and all of their treasures were lost for 2,000 years--preserved by the same volcano that destroyed them.
Starting Friday, March 2, Cincinnati Museum Center guests can experience one of the greatest archaeological treasures ever unearthed in A Day in Pompeii. This blockbuster exhibition brings together more than 250 priceless artifacts to tell the story of several aspects of life in Pompeii as it was before time stopped. Thirteen wall-sized frescos, gold coins and jewelry, marble and bronze statuary offer dazzling examples of ancient Roman artistry. Guests will also experience the power of volcanoes from interactive displays and get up close and personal with body casts of Mount Vesuvius’ victims, eerily preserved in their final moments.
“I’m proud that Cincinnati Museum Center is able to bring this fascinating exhibition of world famous ancient archaeology to our region as the only stop in the Midwest,” says Douglass W. McDonald, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Whether you’re interested in history, art, architecture, archaeology, geology or have actually traveled to Pompeii, this exhibition is a must-see. It’s impossible not to feel a connection with these human beings who lived 2,000 years ago.”
Life in Pompeii
As you enter A Day in Pompeii, a computer-generated video flyover of the city’s buildings shows bathhouses, laundries and marketplaces as they might have looked in 79 A.D. Pompeii’s homes and gardens come to life in richly colored frescos, mosaic tiles, statues, furniture, ovens, everyday plates, bowls spoons, wine jugs and amphora.
Investigate Pompeii’s trading, fishing and agriculture through such artifacts as coins, fishhooks and bronze merchant scales. Nearby, a shrine for household deities, statues from Greek and Roman myths, cremation urns and objects from tombs evoke the religious and burial customs of Pompeii’s citizens. Necklaces, bracelets and dice reveal their love of jewelry and games of chance, while a bronze helmet and shield point to gladiators who fought each other in the city’s amphitheater.
A Day in Pompeii includes at least ten casts made of polyester resin from the original molds of citizens and animals in their final moments. Among the casts you can see a man reaching out to a woman as they lie together, a crouching man, a slave, a pair of young women and a dog. Archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli, who oversaw the excavation of the city from 1860 to 1875, made the amazing discovery that the bodies of people and animals smothered by ash disintegrated, leaving cavities in the hardened ash. Fiorelli and his team poured liquid plaster into these voids, creating incredibly detailed casts.
Pompeii was not the only city destroyed by eruption of Vesuvius. The exhibition also features a large cast of more than 30 skeletal remains found in Herculaneum, a town northwest of Pompeii. Most of its citizens evacuated before the blast, but those fleeing to the waterfront were killed by superheated volcanic debris, known as a pyroclastic surge. The soft tissue of their bodies burned away, leaving only skeletal remains, which became the first Roman remains available for scientific study.
A time-lapsed multimedia presentation re-creates the sights, sounds and then the silence of the doomed city’s 24 hours. Finally, at interactive stations, visitors explore the geology of volcanoes, the art of mosaics, the science of archaeology and ancient construction techniques. Relics of Roman water engineering in the form of pipes, valves and spouts remind visitors of the advances technological achievements of the first century.
Individual tickets for A Day in Pompeii are $19.50 for adults, $17.50 for seniors (ages 60+) and $12.50 for children ages 3-12. Show your Kroger receipt and receive $3 off regular priced tickets to the exhibition! Tickets for Cincinnati Museum Center Members are $12.50 for adults and $8.50 for children. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. To complement the exhibition, we recommend picking up an audio tour for $4 ($3 for Members). Visit cincymuseum.org or call (513) 287-7021 for more information and to make your reservations.
Partnership with the University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati Museum Center is proud to partner with Steven Ellis, Roman archaeologist and assistant professor of classics at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and graduate students from the classics department. Don’t miss these programs developed in partnership with UC:
- A section in A Day in Pompeii highlighting UC’s current excavations and research in Pompeii.
- Gallery talks with graduate students inside the exhibition from 1 to 3 p.m. every Saturday March 17 through May 26.
- A Day in Pompeii Book Club: Shadows of a Volcano – guest speakers at meetings on April 26 and May 31.
- Insights Lecture Series May 17- Distinguished Lecturer Steven Ellis, Ph.D.
- Brown Bag Lecture Series June 18– guest speaker.
A Day in Pompeii is presented in partnership with Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei (SANP), which selected and prepared the artifacts. SANP is responsible for safeguarding and enhancing the cultural heritage of Pompeii and other locations in the Vesuvian area. It operates four archaeological sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and Oplontis) and a museum at Boscoreale. Thank you to our local sponsors and partners of A Day in Pompeii: Frisch’s, Kroger, Cincinnati Reds and the Italian Consulate of Detroit.
Museum Center collaborated with three other museums and previous tour venues to bring this collection of artifacts to the United States for its current tour. A Day in Pompeii has been on display at Discovery Times Square in New York where it opened in March 2011; it opened at the Museum of Science in Boston in October 2011 and will continue to Denver Museum of Nature & Science after leaving Cincinnati.
About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution as well as national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, Museum Center was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Our Union Terminal has been voted the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within Cincinnati Museum Center include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, Cincinnati Museum Center welcomes one million plus visitors annually. Cincinnati Museum Center gratefully acknowledges operating and capital support from the taxpayers of Hamilton County and the State of Ohio. For more information, visit www.cincymuseum.org.