"Pompeii: The Exhibition" at California Science Center

Image courtesy of California Science Center

On August 24, 79 A.D., the Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried everything in its path for more than 1,600 years. The volcanic eruption that spewed searing hot ash not only obliterated the city, but ironically preserved its people and treasures, freezing them in a volcanic time capsule.

Now, visitors at the California Science Center can get a glimpse of the opulent lifestyle and tragic end of an ancient Roman society that was forgotten for centuries until its rediscovery over 250 years ago. Pompeii: The Exhibition features over 150 precious artifacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy, including wall-sized frescoes, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, ancient Roman coins, and full body casts of the volcano’s victims. The exhibition is on display at the California Science Center from May 20, 2014 to Jan. 4, 2015.

Visitors will experience the daily life of this once-vibrant Roman city, from garden frescoes and marble statues to gladiator helmets and shin guards, coins and currency, religious altars and shrines - all set in their original surroundings. Through excavated artifacts, multimedia experiences, and hands-on science exhibits, guests will learn the science of archaeology, volcanology, and Roman engineering while exploring the ancient civilization of Pompeii.

“This exhibition gives an extraordinary look at the city of Pompeii’s archeological treasures that rarely leave Italy,” said California Science Center President, Jeffrey Rudolph. “The insights and discoveries presented and made possible by the scientific tools of archeology and geology will allow guests to reach across time and gain a deeper understanding and human connection with this ancient culture and its people.”


Photo courtesy of the Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompeii

The exhibition’s media-rich, immersive experience transports visitors back in time to 79 A.D. They will embark on a journey through the ancient city that culminates on the fateful morning of the eruption. They will learn how Pompeii was a bustling commercial port and strategic military and trading center, while its neighbor Herculaneum - also buried by Vesuvius - was an exclusive Mediterranean resort. Artifacts bring this world to life as visitors discover how its people lived, loved, worked and worshipped.

Included among the more than 150 authentic artifacts: mosaics and frescoes, gladiator armor, weapons, a ship’s anchor, ceramics, plates, furniture, jewelry, medical instruments and tools.

A replica of a Pompeii brothel features uncensored frescoes, and artifacts of explicit sexual content, which may not be suitable for some guests. Parental guidance is advised for this part of the exhibition, which will be sufficiently sequestered.

Photo courtesy of the Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompeii

As the floors shake and the walls rumble, visitors will relive the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius through an immersive CGI experience, culminating in the reveal of full body casts of twisted human forms, asphyxiated by extreme heat and noxious gases, and forever frozen in time. The plaster casts are made from the hollows left in the ash that hardened around the now-disintegrated bodies of the victims, found upon excavation and eerily preserved in their final moments.

Additional archaeological details present a unique record of daily life in Pompeii, including roads, buildings, and municipal services.

Forces of Nature

To enhance the guest experience during the run of Pompeii: The Exhibition, the California Science Center IMAX is featuring Forces of Nature. Produced by National Geographic Films, Forces of Nature showcases the awesome spectacle of volcanoes, earthquakes, and severe storms in larger-than-life images and sounds. Follow scientists to the very brink of erupting volcanoes, into the paths of deadly pyroclastic flows, along massive fault lines, and aboard vehicles barreling toward severe and tornadic storms. Audiences will also learn what is being done to prepare for and minimize these events.


Tickets to Pompeii: The Exhibition are $19.75 for adults (ages 18-59); $16.75 for youth (13-17), college students with I.D. and seniors 60+; and $12.75 for children (4-12).

Pompeii: The Exhibition tickets are timed tickets, valid only for a specified admission date and time. It is recommended that you allow 60 minutes to view the exhibition. Your timed ticket reflects the time at which you may enter the queue line. It does not reflect the exhibit entry time.

Special discount: Save $3 off adult exhibit-only tickets and $5 off adult combination tickets (which include the Pompeii exhibit and any IMAX film). Enter promo code BRONZE during your online purchase at www.californiasciencecenter.org.