- Pompeii Exhibition in London
- Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum
- What you get to see
- London Breaks by Coach
There’s going to be an enormous exhibition about Pompeii in 2013 at the British Museum, London. This isn’t just one of their special exhibitions that they have every year, but a really extra special big blockbuster exhibition of the type that only comes along every few decades or so. We are talking realistically of the biggest thing since that first overwhelmingly super-sized exhibition way back in the 1970s for King Tutankhamun’s golden mask and accoutrements that had people queuing around the block for hours and emptying the shop of souvenirs. It was that exhibition in 1972 in fact which pretty much invented the whole idea of “exit via the little shop” which transformed the museum industry or possibly created it. Before then, museums were always rather drab places with vast collections of dead things in glass cases, but the King Tut exhibition had the pieces laid out in such a way that visitors encountered each artefact in the same order in which they were originally discovered, thus emulating something of the discovery experience.
So the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition is being billed as up there on a par with that one. It’s on from March until September which is a pretty long run for a temporary exhibition, and millions of London visitors are expected to walk through the grand pillars of the British Museum entrance during those months. Some of the exhibits will be leaving Italy for the first time ever, so this is a wonderful coup for London and the UK. There have been Pompeii exhibits in Singapore and Japan, but London 2013 is set to top them all.
Incidentally I’m old enough to remember a lot of publicity surrounding a previous Pompeii Exhibition in London which I’m pretty certain was in the 1970s as well, a smaller one which may have played a part in the run up to the King Tut one, but I haven;t found any record of this yet. There is reference to the exhibition in the Royal Academy called “AD 79” the year that Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the twin cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but that was later in 1986, so I don’t think that was it. I’l report back here when I’ve found out some more about it.
One thing I’m sure of is that once the Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition has opened at the British Museum in March 2013, people are going to start talking about it. This will then generate a snowball of interest as the enthusiasts relate something of the emotional effect from witnessing at close quarters the actual remnants that clearly depict a living breathing city full of different classes of men women and children suddenly stopped dead in their tracks and frozen in time by the heat smoke and fumes from the Mount Vesuvius volcano and then preserved in the ash and lava flow.
The highlights of the exhibition include:
- An exquisite golden serpent bracelet
- A mosaic of a guard dog
- Six pieces of wooden furniture lent from Herculaneum in an unprecedented loan by the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii
- A poignant and totally heat charred baby’s crib which still rocks
- A loaf of bread which was put in the oven in AD79 and removed from it in the 1930s
- Six casts made from the bodies of those who died in 79AD including the remains of an entire family, two adults and two children, found cowering under a staircase in Pompeii.
- The most famous dog from the ancient world, frozen in time writhing against its collar and the rope which still tied it to a stake as it died.
- An imposing bronze bust of a banker and money lender, who was also a freed slave.
There will be coach breaks to London with the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition ticket and excursion included with travel and hotel so you don’t have to do it in day trip from hundreds of miles away. You could well turn such a coach break into a bit of a London cultural weekend as well, by visiting one or more of the other excellent free admission museums in the capital such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial War museum, the Tate and so on – there really are a lot to choose from if you are anything of a culture vulture. On a 2 day coach break, the coach will pick you up on a Saturday from the nearest departure point to your home heading straight to London for a wander around, then to the hotel for the night and after breakfast to the British Museum for the exhibition, setting off for home mid to late Sunday afternoon.
A 3 day coach break on the other hand sets off on a Friday and includes a visit to Stratford or Windsor with a Saturday visit the Pompeii Exhibition and two night in a London hotel. There is also an alternative 2 day coach break to the Pompeii exhibition which includes a stop at Windsor on the Saturday, so which one you choose could well depend upon where in the country you are starting off from to fit in with the logistics of multiple coach parties. The best thing about opting for an exhibition coach break is that you will be in company of like-minded people if you so wish, on the journey and at your hotel. For those who don’t require a coach party, self drive and rail breaks to see Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum are also available.