A Day in Pompeii

Photo courtesy of the
Ministeroper i beni e le attivita
archaeologica de pompei


Offers rare glimpse into ancient Rome

When Mt. Vesuvius unexpectedly erupted on Aug. 24, 79 A.D.–more than 1,900 years ago–the Roman city of Pompeii was buried in 30 feet of volcanic ash. A once bustling society of 20,000 people vanished in less than 24 hours. While it’s tragic that thousands of people lost their lives, the tragedy has also given us a rare chance to see a piece of history preserved forever. Under the ash, everything–the artwork, the people, the objects, the buildings–remained as it was at the time of the eruption.

The Science Museum of Minnesota’s new exhibit, A Day in Pompeii, brings this ancient world to life from now through January 6, 2008. Only four U.S. cities will host this exhibit of actual items from Pompeii, discovered by archeologists over 200 years ago. The exhibit includes more than 250 almost perfectly preserved artifacts, including gorgeous frescoes (a type of painting technique), gold coins and precious jewelry, marble and bronze sculptures, grave goods, and everyday household objects.

Joseph Imholte, who manages the implementation of special exhibition projects, has worked on a total of 14 exhibits with the Science Museum of Minnesota. This one is different, he says, in that the Science Museum received special permission from Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei (SAP), the official archeological authority governing this world-renowned site, to display these invaluable artifacts.

“The fact that the SAP allowed the artifacts to leave Italy reinforces the Science Museum’s reputation in the international museum community,†Imholte says. “It’s not easy to be a host venue for an exhibit like this.â€

One of the most rewarding behind-the-scenes moments for Imholte was seeing the frescoes come out of their crates.

“They are so incredibly beautiful,†he comments. “And to see them go up on the wall was very satisfying–the culmination of a lot of hard work.â€

Exhibit developers hope that visitors will get an idea of how similar the citizens of Pompeii were to people today. They went to restaurants, they went to work, they had pets, they played sports, they went shopping, they were religious, they liked jewelry and makeup and perfume.
In addition to artifacts depicting day-to-day Pompeiian life, visitors will see eight body casts, or plaster molds of the cavities left by the victims’ bodies. The casts depict the people of Pompeii in their final moments of life, and provide a haunting reminder of the humanity of this ancient civilization. Audio tours, included with each admission, will offer additional insight about this ancient city.

“That’s the coolest thing to me,†Imholte says. “We’re giving our visitors the opportunity to learn about ancient Rome and volcanoes in a totally unique and special way.â€


Additional fees apply for this special exhibit. Entrances are timed and reservations are strongly recommended. The Museum offers expanded hours for A Day in Pompeii, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The audio tour is available in both Spanish and English.


There are three easy ways to purchaseA Day in Pompeiitickets:

  • Online at  www.smm.org
  • Call 651-221-9444 or 1-800-221-9444
    • Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Visit the Box Office during regular museum hours.

Pompeii + exhibits + Omnitheater

Adult              $24 (nonmembers)    $7 (members)
Child (4-12)    $18 (nonmembers)    $5 (members)
Senior (60+)   $18 (nonmembers)    $5 (members)

Pompeii + exhibits
Adult               $20 (nonmembers)    $7 (members)
Child (4-12)     $15 (nonmembers)    $5 (members)
Senior (60+)    $15 (nonmembers)    $5 (members)

The museum accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

Greece: Secrets of the Past

As a complement to the A Day in Pompeii exhibit, the Science Museum of Minnesota’s nine-story domed Omnitheater screen will transport visitors to the dawn of democracy and the birthplace of western civilization in Greece: Secrets of the Past

This giant screen journey takes viewers to the world-famous island chain of Santorini, where a thriving society was buried in 1646 B.C. by one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in known history. Explore an active excavation site near Akrotiri, where well-preserved ruins of a Bronze Age Greek civilization are hidden beneath volcanic ash. Delve into the sparkling Aegean Sea and learn about its role in the birth of democracy. And get a look at what the city of Athens–and its famous Parthenon–would have looked like in all its glory. Greece gives viewers the chance to explore the ascension of Greece’s legendary Golden Age and leaves them wondering what its rise and fall might mean for civilization today.