The Métropolitain

Pompeii Hits Musée Des Beaux-Arts Montréal

By Robert K. Stephen on July 31, 2016

Yes you have heard the name Pompeii countless times but the exhibit really highlights a point in time of history with artifacts and a description of everyday life in Pompeii. Personally, it conveys the message that a natural disaster is never far away whether it be a massive ice storm, a tsunami or earthquake. Everything is normal and kaboom it’s all over for thousands of people. How can those people in Los Angeles sleep knowing they’ll be sliding into the sea as the San Andreas Fault heaves?

pompei.jpgWe can move right to the disaster. The early warning sign was in 62 A.D. when Pompeii was reduced to rubble by a strong earthquake. A sign not all was well with Mount Vesuvius, but in 79 A.D. on August 24th Vesuvius blew its top spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice 30 kilometres in the air eventually falling to the ground in a rush of hot debris and gas. This all floated to the ground on August 25th flash heating people and preserving them.

Archeological evidence indicates some 2,000 died in this horrific event with 13,000 escaping before the gas and hot debris superheated to 400 degrees hit the ground. The artifacts preserved offer a rare glimpse into ancient Rome.

In the exhibit we see artifacts from the ancient home, the arts, the role of women, the art of beauty including containers for perfume, jewellery and grooming tools and many statutes.

In short the exhibition offers insights into the citizens of Pompeii, their history, appetite for life and their delight for life as seen in the 220 works on display. It includes frescoes, mosaics, statutes, luxurious accessories, silverware, every day utensils, religious paraphernalia and an exquisite selection of erotica from the Secret Cabinet of the National Archeological Museum of Naples, including one showing Pan fornicating with a goat!

The big event for those that like these things is a multimedia presentation of the actual eruption. A bit cheesey but the children will love it!

Let me leave it as this. Paul Denis the principal curator of the museum says, “The exhibition on Pompeii offers us an unparalleled view into the public, private and intimate realms of the Romans who lived two thousand years ago.”

You can focus on the flash preserved bodies but I prefer the brief glimpse into a past history which the exhibit accomplishes.Catch the Roman Empire in a certain point of time.

You can catch this fascinating exhibit at the Musée Des Beaux Arts running until September 5th. The museum is closed Mondays.