Visitors to Cincinnati Museum Center can travel back in time to 79 A.D. to experience the fabled volcanic eruption that left one of the world’s great ancient cities frozen in time.
“POMPEII: The Exhibition” opens Feb. 16 at Union Terminal. The immersive display tells the now-fabled story of the destruction of the Italian city after the sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Following the event on Aug. 24, 79 A.D., the once-thriving port city – and its people – became lost to history for 1,700 years. However, remarkably, the same ash and debris that destroyed Pompeii, also preserved it.
Through decades of excavation, archaeologists have uncovered various aspects of a record of what the city would have looked like during the height of the Roman Empire – roads, buildings, municipal services, paintings, mosaics and even preserved bodies. Ongoing research – including by teams from the University of Cincinnati – continues to uncover new artifacts every day.
“POMPEII” features more than 150 artifacts on loan from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, about 16 miles from present-day Pompei (modern spelling). The collection features still-vibrant mosaics and frescoes, gladiator armor, statues, jewelry and everyday items.
“We wanted to bring this historical event back to life and allow guests to relive it vividly,” said John Norman, president of World Heritage Exhibitions, which produced “POMPEII.” He praised the Cincinnati Museum Center for its reputation as a “premiere venue.”
“(It’s) a perfect location to exhibit these international treasures and provide audiences an opportunity to experience life in the bustling city of Pompeii before time essentially stopped,” he added.
Brining ‘Pompeii’ to Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Museum Center will host “POMPEII” through July 23. The museum described its newest exhibition as “media rich” and immersive.
Elements of the show include an introductory theater that sets the scene in a video with dramatic reconstructions of Pompeii and the nearby volcano. Guests will further transport back in time as they step through a reproduction of a 1st century atrium.
While some of the artifacts may be nearly 2,000 years old, the technology in the exhibit is not. It includes a holographic gladiatorial combat and a 3D experience that takes guests through the different stages of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption. Norman’s team also assembled a four-dimensional theater where guests can experience the force of volcano through a simulated – and safe, of course – eruption.
The show closes with the reveal of full body casts of twisted human forms, asphyxiated by extreme heat and noxious gasses, according to the museum center.
“We’re honored to be entrusted with these archaeological treasures and to once again bring the world to Cincinnati, and to do so in immersive fashion as we transport guests back in time to a period of splendor and a day of timeless catastrophe,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center.