By Mindy Sink
“Have you been to the room with the dead bodies?” a little girl asked my daughter and I as we strolled through the Denver Museum of Nature and Science last week. No, we had not made it that far yet I told her. My 7-year old started to look nervous and said nothing.
As macabre as it sounds, the truth is that dead bodies are what most people expect to see when viewing an exhibit titled, “A Day in Pompeii.” The exhibit opened on Sept. 14 and runs through January 13, 2013. Pompeii is known for Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that erupted and wiped out the Mediterranean village of Pompeii on August 24, AD 79. But the reality is that this exhibit is designed to showcase the impressive culture that existed during that time—before you get to “the room with the dead bodies” in it.
The show includes artifacts from Pompeii—furniture, oil lamps, frescoes, statuary and more—as visitors learn about architecture and trade from that time. Children will be drawn to the live actors who circulate through the exhibit as “residents” of Pompeii who can share historically accurate tales and facts. The most popular features of the exhibit were the carts with demonstrations of everything from dice (yes, dice were exactly the same centuries ago!) and cosmetic cases to modern hand stamps for different gods that were worshipped by the people of Pompeii (determine which god represents you to pick a hand stamp).
There is a brief movie that shows that last 24 hours of Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted (pretty cool digital animation). The remainder of the show is a display of the casts of humans and animals that perished on that day (the actual remains disintegrated, but the volcanic ash preserved their shapes).
If your children are still needing a little more volcanic excitement the museum has thoughtfully provided a small photo exhibit of some of the world’s, and Colorado’s, volcanoes—both during eruptions and while dormant. A cart on the third level bridge provides hands-on volcanic education where you can hold a “volcanic bomb” (a very heavy rock) and other rocks.
Entrance to the special exhibit is not included in general admission. Audio tours are also an additional fee. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance go to www.dmns.org.
–Mindy Sink is a freelance writer based in Denver. She is the author of Walking Denver, Moon Handbooks Guide to Denver, and co-author of Colorado Organic. Learn more about her work at www.mindysink.com.