One of the most significant exhibitions ever to come to the Arizona Science Center is opening Nov. 18.
"Pompeii: The Exhibition" is a blockbuster show running through May 28, bringing to life the ill-fated Italian city that was devastated in 79 A.D. by the explosion of Mount Vesuvius. When excavators began unearthing the city in 1748, they discovered that Pompeii was surprisingly well-preserved.
This exhibition will feature more than 200 artifacts on loan mostly from the Naples National Archaeological Museum, including marble and bronze sculptures, frescoes, jewelry and mosaics, as well as body casts of victims from the explosion. Visitors will also get to experience a recreation of the disaster in the 4D theater.
"We've been working on trying to bring it to Phoenix for a couple years, and were finally able to secure it," said Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of the Arizona Science Center. "The historical significance as one of the most notable natural disasters will have people in awe. It's relevant for all ages and interests."
"Pompeii: The Exhibition" will take visitors into the lives of Pompeii before and after the volcanic eruption. (Photo: Stuart A Watson Photography)
The exhibition premiered in 2013 in Philadelphia, and is a collaboration among Exhibitions International, the Pompeii historical site and Naples National Archaeological Museum. The 10,000-square foot exhibit offers guests a glimpse into the city before, during and after the disaster, and goes beyond just items in glass cases.
"The objects are fully stunning and remarkably well-preserved, and tell a story that is evergreen that people have been interested in for decades," said Troy Collins, chief marketing officer and VP of business development for Exhibitions International. "We create environments and immerse guests in them...It offers guests the opportunity to find themselves back in Pompeii right before and after the disaster."
Visitors first watch a video that introduces them to Pompeii. After, they explore a Roman villa: walking through the garden, dining room, kitchen and out the back of the house. They then encounter a marketplace, temple, theater and baths. Along the way are the many artifacts, including a bronze sculpture of young Apollo, a fresco depicting a flying priestess and an elaborate bronze gladiator helmet.
Pompeii: The Exhibition opens Nov. 18 at Arizona Science Center. (Photo: Leroy Hamilton)
A traveling exhibition of this magnitude can be challenging. Brown said there are eight 53-foot trailers used to transport the scenic set pieces, AV elements and artifacts.
"We take incredible care to ensure everything is cared for the moment we take them out of the cases," Brown said. "Three couriers from Naples travel with the exhibition to oversee the process."
The artifacts are packed in custom crates. Since they are made from plaster, Brown said the body casts are actually pretty light. The heaviest piece is a sculpture of the Emperor Caligula, made from marble and weighing almost 2,000 pounds.
Next, visitors experience the 4D theater, offering a three-minute recreation of the volcanic eruption.
"It's a time lapse of the entire day, and the guests feel the tremors of Vesuvius," said Cynthia Brown, VP of exhibitions for Exhibitions International. "The floor shakes, there's fog machines, fans and lighting, all to give the effect of what people would have experienced then."
The 4D theater that shows a recreation of the Mount Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii. (Photo: Courtesy of Pompeii: The Exhibition)
Excavators of Pompeii found that the human and animal remains were surrounded by voids in the ash, so they were able to cast them in plaster, showing the harrowing positions of the how the inhabitants died. Six of these casts are on display in the exhibit, including one of a dog.
"What really captured me is the human drama of those last moments, and you feel for those people," Humphrey said. "You try to picture yourself in that moment, and it's overwhelming actually. It resonated with me very much that I'm only a small piece in this world, and so do I really have control?"
Collins said seeing the casts is a reverent experience.
"You're staring at a cast, a mold of an actual person, and this isn't a drawing or film, this is real," he said. "It's stirring, and puts the disaster into perspective."
A dog cast that appears in Pompeii: The Exhibition. (Photo: Pompeii: The Exhibition)
The exhibit is open to all ages, but the subject matter of devastation and death can be difficult. There is also a small section that depicts a Pompeii brothel, where parental guidance is advised. Humphrey said the question of what is appropriate to show children came up during the exhibition, "Body Worlds," which featured dissected human bodies and animals.
"When we have exhibits that present all aspects of science, we try to prepare our public as much as possible with information," Humphrey said. "We encourage parents that if they are going to see the exhibition, to have proper conversations with (their children) prior to coming."
Humphrey said when she first saw the exhibition in California, there was a lot of discussion with other visitors about natural disasters, especially with the spate of hurricanes that have pummeled the U.S.
"There were a lot of questions and people having conversations about life, about death, about these extreme weather happenings around the world," Humphrey said. "Mother nature is a very powerful force."
A theater mask that was discovered in the ancient city of Pompeii. (Photo: Courtesy of Pompeii: The Exhibition)
- Male bust: Bronze and glass, 1st century B.C. House of the Citharist in Pompeii. This was one of two bronze busts found together at the House of the Citharist. These were likely a portrayal of the home owners, who were one of the oldest and most influential families in the city.
- Statue of Caligula: Marble, 1st century A.D. This statue of Roman Emperor Caligula (12 A.D.-41 A.D.) was crafted after his assassination. Here he is depicted in the likeness of the god Mars Ultor. The emperor had many ties to Pompeii.
- Fountain sculpture: Bronze, 1st century B.C. House of the Citharist. This sculpture of a snake was found in the middle of the peristyle garden water basin at the home, and water sprayed from the serpent's mouth to supply the fountain.
- Erotic scene: Painted Plaster, c.45-79 A.D. Erotic images were usually placed in brothels or small rooms next to the slave quarters. This image was found in the public area of a wealthy home, portraying a satyr revealing the body of a nymph sleeping in the woods.
- Silver coin: Silver, 1st century A.D. House of the Successus. This was one of 17 coins found in a box next to the remains of a person trying to flee the city.
- Guard dog: Cast. House of Orpheus.This dog was found at the front door of the home, presumably to stand guard while the family fled. The bronze studs still remain from the collar.
- Theater mask: Marble, 1st century A.D. Theater masks were often found in peristyle gardens, and this mask was used as decoration. It portrays a cheerful young male character that was prominent in Roman comedy.
- Signet ring: Gold, 1st century A.D. These rings were worn by both men and women. The rings featured the owner's name, or had an engraving of the owner's mark. This ring showcases a hero.
- Necklace: Gold, pearl and emerald, 1st century A.D. Pompeiians liked to add gemstones to their jewelry. Pearls and emeralds, and the crescent moon were representative of the goddess Venus.
- Gladiator helmet: Bronze, 1st century A.D. The ornate helmet was found in the gladiatorial barracks. The helmet features an eagle and Priapus, the Greek god of fertility, for protection.
'Pompeii: The Exhibition'
When: Saturday, Nov. 18 through Monday, May 28.
Where: Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix.
Admission: The exhibit is separate from Arizona Science Center admission. $11.95 for adults; $9.95 for children ages 3 to 17. Free for children younger than 2. Arizona Science Center member pricing is $9.95 for adults; $7.95 for children. Admission to the Arizona Science Center is $18 for adults; $13 for children ages 3 to 17; $16 for seniors.
Details: 602-716-2000, azscience.org.
11/10-12: Fountain Festival of Arts and Crafts | Browse booths full of original artwork, sculptures and paintings from more than 500 artists at this annual outdoor festival, which more than 200,000 people attend each year. Listen to live music while having a bite to eat and visiting the beer garden. Guests can browse clothing, jewelry and more. The event is held rain or shine. | Details:10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday, Nov. 10-12. Outdoors in downtown Fountain Hills along Avenue of the Fountains. Free. 480-837-1654, fountainhillschamber.com. Cydney McFarland/The Republic 11/10-12: 39th Annual Gilbert Days Rodeo | Rodeo fans will enjoy plenty of exciting and fast-paced events at the yearly Gilbert Days Rodeo. Presented by the Gilbert Promotional Corporation, the rodeo features family-friendly rodeo action. | Details: November 10-12. 7 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. 26601 S. Val Vista Drive, Gilbert. $12 and $18, free for military with ID and age 6 and under. gilbertdays.org. Ben Moffat/The Republic 11/11-12: 7th annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses and Horsepower | This year’s polo championships feature matches including Santa Barbara vs. Polo Azteca, reigning champs Aspen Valley Polo Club vs. the Monte Carlo Polo Team and more. Enjoy a sneak peek of the 2018 Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and Barrett-Jackson 2018 Collector Car Auction along with local Ferrari and Lamborghini car clubs. Be sure to also check out the dog fashion show and live performances. | Details: Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 11-12. WestWorld of Scottsdale’s Polo Field, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale. Tickets start at $25, general admission for 12 and under is free. thepoloparty.com. Dave Seibert 11/12: So You Think You Can Dance Tour – Season 14 | Come see the ten finalists from Season 14 of the popular television show. 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Camelback Road, Phoenix. $69 for participants, free for spectators. $10 for military and students. $20 parking per car. ruggedmaniac.com. Courtesy of ruggedmaniac.com 11/18: Woofstock | Bring the whole family—both two- and four-legged—to Woofstock in Chandler. The event includes plenty of dog and family-friendly activities including a Walk of Honor – A Salute to Veterans, demonstrations, stage performances and vendors. Check the website for additional details, which will be posted soon. | Details: 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. Tumbleweed Park, 745 E. Germann Road, Chandler. Free. chandleraz.gov. The Republic 11/18: 3rd Annual Phoenix Pizza Festival | Come celebrate the popular and scrumptious food at the annual Phoenix Pizza Festival. Around 15 pizza vendors will be selling slices and pies. You'll also finddessert food trucks, lawn games, live music andarts and crafts for the kids. | Details: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. Third St., Phoenix. $10, online purchase only. 480-442-9176, phoenix.pizza. Jeremiah Toller 11/18-19: ArtFest of Scottsdale | Celebrate the arts and do some early Christmas shopping. More than 150 artists and dozens of local authors will display their works, all to the sound of regional musicians. Sample delicious food from Valley restaurants or just enjoy the beautiful weather in downtown Scottsdale. Kids can enjoy hands-on activities, and dogs are welcome. | Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19. Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza, 7380 E. Second St. Free. 480-968-5353, 888artfest.com. Alexis Macklin/The Republic 11/22-1/15: ZooLights | Mark your calendars for Nov. 22 — that is when the popular holiday-season ZooLights exhibit will return to the Phoenix Zoo. ZooLights features millions of lights, hundreds of light displays, Music-in-Motion displays by the lake, a lighted tree, carousel rides, and more. | Details: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22-Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. Tickets are available starting Oct. 1; check website for details. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 602-286-3800, phoenixzoo.org. Michael Chow/The Republic 11/23: Turkey Trot 5K & Fitness Walk | Head to Fountain Hills for the 26th annual Turkey Trot and burn off some of those Turkey Day calories. The event, which takes place on Thanksgiving morning, allows participants to get in some healthy exercise before diving into their big holiday meal at home. | Details: 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 23. Fountain Hills Community Center, 13001 N. La Montana Drive, Fountain Hills. $25 for 5K, $15 for 12 and under, $15 for 1 mile fitness walk. experiencefountainhills.org Experience Fountain Hills with Wrap Arizona Photography 11/24-1/6: Glendale Glitters | The award-winning and popular holiday festival is returning to Glendale. 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This one’s mostly for Houston fans. | Details: Tuesday, Nov. 28, through Sunday, Dec. 3.ASU Gammage, Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard, Tempe. Prices TBA. 480-965-3434,asugammage.com. Joan Marcus 12/2-3: Experience Scandinavia | Celebrate the music and culture of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland with musical performances, crafts, traditional dances and a special menu at the cafe. | Details: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3. Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix. $20; $15 for ages 13-19; $10 for ages 4-12; free for ages 3 or younger and members. 480-478-6000, mim.org. Musical Instrument Museum 12/22: ‘A Cirque Nutcracker’: Ballet Arizona’s stellar “Nutcracker” is a highlight of every season, but if you’re looking for a new twist on a holiday favorite, the Phoenix Symphony is hosting LA-based Troupe Vertigo for a Cirque du Soleil-style spectacle with highflying acrobats whizzing over the orchestra’s heads. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. $30-$99. 602-495-1999, phoenixsymphony.org. Mesa Arts Center 1/30-2/25: 'Hamilton' | The countdown has begun: “Hamilton,” Broadway’s hip-hop smash about the Founding Fathers, will be coming to Tempe’s ASU Gammage on Jan. 30, 2018, for a four-week run. | Details: Tuesday through Sunday, January 30-February 25. ASU Gammage, Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard, Tempe. Single show tickets not yet available. 480-965-3434, asugammage.com. Joan Marcus
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