Malibu Seen: Into the Future, Back to the Past

Pompeii: The Exhibition

Whether the theme is exploration of outer space, California sustainable cuisine or ancient Egypt, the California Science Center sure knows how to throw one heck of a bash. Last year’s fundraising gala was a supersonic, out-of-this-world affair, complete with futuristic flight attendants and dinner under the wings of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. From CSI-type crime mysteries to comic book superheroes, there is always something new and different to explore. 

This year, on May 16, it will be a blast to the past. 

The museum will unveil it’s upcoming spectacular west coast premiere of “Pompeii: The Exhibition.” 

It focuses on a pivotal event in human history. You have to go way back in the way back machine for this one. The monumental event took place on August 24, 79 A.D. That’s when the Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, burying everything in its path for more than 1,600 years. The eruption that spewed searing hot ash not only obliterated the city, but here is the most significant result: It preserved its people and treasures, freezing them in a volcanic time capsule which will now be revealed in the west coast premiere of a mind-blowing exhibition. 

More than 150 precious artifacts are on loan from the unparalleled collection of the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy, including wall-sized frescos, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, ancient Roman coins, and full body casts of the volcano’s victims. These special pieces of history will be on display at the California Science Center May 20, 2014–January 4, 2015. My husband and I traveled there and to the neighboring city of Herculaneum during a trip to Southern Italy more than ten years ago, and it is a sight to behold. What strikes one is the incredible beauty and sophistication of the place, including chariot roadways, elegant villas, restaurants and even a brothel or two. 

These artifacts, set in scenic depictions of their original surroundings, tell the tale of the bustling city of Pompeii, hidden from view and forgotten for centuries until its rediscovery more than 250 years ago. The catastrophic power of volcanoes is also illustrated through an immersive CGI experience of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The impact and devastation is evidenced by full body casts . The plaster casts were made from the hollows left in the ash that hardened around the now disintegrated bodies of the victims, found upon excavation. They are eerily preserved in their final moments. 

“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.” 

So whether it’s a glimpse into the past, present or future, the California Science Center is sure to deliver intrigue, education and fun.