Pompeii’s museum comes back to life to display amazing finds

Pompeii's museum comes back to life to display amazing finds

Decades after suffering bombing and earthquake damage, Pompeii’s museum has been reborn, showing off exquisite finds from excavations of the antieke Roman city.

Officials of the archeological park of the ruins of the city destroyed in 79 A.D. by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius inaugurated the museum on Monday.

Known as the Antiquarium, the museum gives Pompeii a permanent exhibition space. Visitors can see sections of frescoed walls from the sprawling city’s unearthed villas, examples of some of the graffiti unearthed by archaeologists as well as household objects ranging from silver spoons to a bronze food-warmer, items of the everyday life that was snuffed out by the volcanic explosion.

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First opened in about 1873, the Antiquarium was damaged by bombing during World War II and again in 1980, when a deadly earthquake rocked the Naples area. Since the quake, the museum had been closed, although it was reopened in 2016 as a space for temporary exhibitions.

A woman takes pictures of casts of two victims of the 49 AD Eruption of Mount Vesuvius displayed at the museum Antiquarium, in Pompeii, southern Italy, Maandag, Jan.. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

A woman takes pictures of casts of two victims of the 49 AD Eruption of Mount Vesuvius displayed at the museum Antiquarium, in Pompeii, southern Italy, Maandag, Jan.. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Antiquarium’s displays also document Pompeii’s history as a settlement several centuries before it became a flourishing Roman city.

Due to Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic reis beperkings, currently only visitors from Italy’s Campania region, which includes the Naples area and the Pompeii ruins, can see the museum.

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Pompeii is one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, and when mass tourism eventually resumes, entrance tickets to the ruins will also include a visit to the Antiquarium.

A man walks past the statue of Ephebos inside the museum Antiquarium in Pompeii, southern Italy, Maandag, Jan.. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

A man walks past the statue of Ephebos inside the museum Antiquarium in Pompeii, southern Italy, Maandag, Jan.. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The re-opening of the museum after so many decades of travail isa sign of great hope during a very difficult moment,” Pompeii’s long time director, Massimo Osanna, gesê. He was referring to the harsh blow that the pandemic’s travel restrictions have dealt to tourism, one of Italy’s biggest revenue sources.

On display in the last room of the museum are poignant casts made from the remains of some of Pompeii’s residents who tried to flee but were overcome by blasts of volcanic gases or battered by a rain of lava stones ejected by Vesuvius.

A journalist takes pictures in the archeological site of Pompeii during the inauguration of the museum Antiquarium, in Pompeii, southern Italy, Maandag, Jan.. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

A journalist takes pictures in the archeological site of Pompeii during the inauguration of the museum Antiquarium, in Pompeii, southern Italy, Maandag, Jan.. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

I find particularly touching the last room, the one dedicated to the eruption, and where on display are the objects deformed by the heat of the eruption, the casts of the victims, the casts of the animals,” Osanna said. “Regtig, one touches with one’s hand the incredible drama that the 79 A.D. eruption was.

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Large swaths of Pompeii remain to be excavated. While tourism virtually ground to a halt during the pandemic, archaeologists have kept working.

Just a month ago, Osanna revealed the discovery of an ancient fast-food eatery at Pompeii. Completely excavated, the find helped to reveal dishes popular with the citizens of the ancient city who apparently were partial to eating out, including what was on the menu the day that Pompeii was destroyed.

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