Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pompeii: The Exhibition

2/19/15 Diamine Chocolate Brown and Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun inks, Canson
XL 140 lb. paper
The Pacific Science Center is showing Pompeii: The Exhibition, a fascinating collection of artifacts unearthed from the city that was buried under Mt. Vesuvius’ ashes in 79 A.D. In addition to architectural features, domestic items, art and other objects that have been recovered, the exhibit includes short CG-animated video programs showing what life for the residents of Pompeii might have been like.

Although the artifacts were interesting, what I found most moving was the resin replicas of casts made of individuals who had been instantly killed by the volcanic eruption, the form of their bodies perfectly preserved through the centuries. Seeing the remains of the way they lived seemed commonplace compared to seeing the way they had died so suddenly in an explosion of fire and ash.

Unfortunately for me, it is the type of exhibition that attracts so many people (“Final U.S. Showing through May 25!”) that we were herded through each room without much space or time to sketch. I saw a number of sculptures I would have liked to capture, as well as the cast replicas of the bodies. Alas, all I managed to sketch was this small bronze lamp stand in the shape of a man’s head.

I did take a few photos, though (difficult in the dark rooms, since flash wasn’t allowed), including this one of a cast child. The placard reads, “This young child was one of 13 men, women and children who died in a large garden or vineyard near the city wall. Found as a group, they all died in a single moment as they apparently tried to flee the pyroclastic surges of heat, hot gases, rock and ash of Vesuvius, six miles away.”

The exhibit ends with information about the several active volcanoes around Seattle, including Mt. Rainier, less than a hundred miles away.


  1. Glad you've got a new exhibit to sketch. Don't you find that the crowds thin out after the first week or so? I mentioned elsewhere that I go to view an exhibit when it opens without worrying about sketching. Going back a week later keeps me from being trampled by the herd :-)

  2. Too bad it was too crowded for much sketching. It boggles my mind that so many people were instantly killed and preserved in the positions they were in at the time. It must have been an interesting exhibit to see.


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