My husband and I visited the Pacific Science Center to see the Pompeii Exhibit yesterday. Our visit was coordinated with a dinner outing with our grown children. The Pacific Science Center is in a way a nostalgic place for us because we visited the center fairly often when our “children” were indeed children.
The first thing we noticed was the cost of admission tickets. We rationalized it as a result of high insurance cost (after all, the exhibit included a number of priceless artifacts) and other incidental fees. The special exhibit was located in the special exhibit corner of the Science Center. It divided show rooms according to the several categories, such as Home, Atrium, Forum, Theater, Bath, and Brothel (discretely placed after a warning sign to parents), to illustrate the life style of 1st-century Roman citizens. Many of the artifacts exhibited were similar to the artifacts exhibited at other Roman Empire-themed museum exhibits. The significant difference in this exhibit was the plaster body casts of people who quickly expired due to the 12-foot deep ashes that fell on the city when Mt. Vesuvius suddenly erupted: one can say that it was a holocaust by volcanic eruption. The white plaster body casts were eerie, and made me think of the transience of human life and accomplishments.
Our individual verdict for this exhibit is that it is worth visiting. For my husband, who has never visited Pompeii, the exhibit was very enjoyable. He liked the gladiators’ iron helmets and shin guards, which were rather huge; and he was amazed by the medical implements exhibited near the brothel section. For me, who had visited Pompeii in 1970s, the exhibit worked as a cue to help me recollect some of the things that I saw at the actual ruins (which were, needless to say, more expansive, numerous and evocative even in my hazy memory). However, this exhibit contained some frescos and artifacts that I may not have seen when I actually visited the ruins.