Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pompeii The Exhibit: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius @ Discovery Times Square

(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)

Plaster cast of a man: Found in a gymnasium,
this man was sitting with his back to a wall
and his knees drawn up.
(image: William Starling for DTSX)
Today starts with a return visit to Discovery Times Square for Pompeii The Exhibit which presents a collection of over 250 artifacts including what organizers report to be the largest collection of body casts ever on display. The exhibit allows visitors to experience Pompeii before, during and after the epic eruption of Mount Vesuvius over 2,000 years ago.

Disaster flicks have been a favorite movie genre of mine and I guess that interest bled into learning about actual disasters throughout history including the destruction of Pompeii. This exhibit will not be able to compete with the neighboring collection of Harry Potter movie props but hopefully those visiting that exhibition will find some interest in experiencing this one as well.

Plaster cast of a watchdog: This unfortunate
dog, wearing his bronze-studded collar, was left
chained up, and suffocated beneath the ash and
cinders. (image: William Starling for DSTSX)
The collection of white plaster body casts are displayed on black platforms and dimly lit. This helps to see the outlines of these figures which are rough but still reveal such detail as the folds of clothing. When the flesh and muscle of the victims decayed, they left a hollow mold made from the solidified volcanic ash that buried the city. An archaeologist in the 19th century found that by pouring plaster into these hollow spaces and shattering the solid rock around it left a reproduction of humans and animals caught in the final moments of their lives. Within the same gallery is a dramatic collection of skeletal remains found at Herculaneum, four miles from Pompeii, which was also destroyed in the eruption.

The exhibit allows visitors to experience the vibrant life of the citizens of Pompeii viewed through preserved painted frescoes, tools, coins, pottery and even the armor of a gladiator. This leads into one of the most striking aspects of the exhibit. In time lapsed representation starting from the the moment of the Vesuvius' massive explosion, visitors see the disaster unfold with an animated view of the city as the volcano looms in the distance. Sounds of destruction raining on the city is combined with walls and floors that vibrate. This leads into the gallery of body casts and the artifacts from what used to be Pompeii.

Carbonized bread: centuries-old blackened loaves such as this one were
found in the ruins of many ovens, abandoned by bakers scurrying to escape
the sudden volcanic eruption. (image: William Starling for DTSX)
Statue of Bacchus (Bronze): The Roman god of
wine. This statue was discovered in 1957 in the
Pompeii disaster site
(image: William Starling for DTSX)
Soprintendenza Archeologia de Napoli e Pompei which oversees Pompeii created the display and presents it in conjunction Discovery Times Square. The center is New York City's first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences exploring cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, past presentations include Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, King Tut: Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. In addition to Pompeii The Exhibit, Harry Potter Exhibition is also currently on display.

More info and online tickets at or call 1-866-987-9692. The exhibition runs from March 4, 2011 to September 5, 2011. Ticket prices: adults $26, senior $23.50 and children $19.50. Audio tour is $7.50 (one complimentary audio tour when tickets purchased with an American Express card). Hours: Sun-Wed 9am-8pm; Tue-Sat 9am-9pm. Discovery Times Square is located at 226 West 44th St between 7th and 8th Ave. Cake Boss Cafe on site.

The Discovery Times Square entry hall and box office.
(image: TheHopefulTraveler)


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