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Eruptions and stuff

Most of my best experiences in NYC last week were on my own or with one or two people, which is quite often the case at large conferences. It just becomes overwhelming otherwise. The lovely and talented Miranda Neville was witness to one of my rare forays into the wonderful world of alcohol, I met Maggie Robinson for the first time (and thanks, Maggie, for dealing with my a/v problem) and Pam Rosenthal and I hung out together.

I also had a solo and messy experience eating a falafel sandwich on Times Square, one of the more glorious meals of the event (which isn’t saying much).

But the best thing I did was to visit the Discovery Pompeii Exhibit which was really spectacular. And guess what, it’s related to the Regency! Of course it is … the site was first excavated in the mid eighteenth century and, well, need I say any more than Pompeian red?

It was such a pleasure to be able to view the exquisite wall paintings and realize how they influenced Georgian design.

Because it was Discovery, the exhibit was a little overorchestrated, with sound effects and so on, but it did include a very well done movie of the timeline of the day of the eruption, which I watched twice.

To keep things PG, the exhibit contained a reconstruction of a room in a brothel (with dire warnings outside) which looked squeaky clean and more like a room in a nunnery, other than the erotic fresco, which I didn’t find did a whole lot for me. Had impressionable young people entered the room they would have received a lesson in bedmaking.

What fascinated me were the details–of the frescoes, of the fountain studded with mosaics and seashells, and the glimpses of everyday life: graffiti, a loaf of bread, a jar with fish sauce, the beautifully preserved cosmetic sets. The casts of the figures–there were about a dozen including a dog and a pig–were touching and pitiful, particularly one of a toddler whose features you could see quite clearly. I hope it’s true that death was instantaneous, but so many of them were people fleeing who dropped in their tracks; think how terrified they must have been. They didn’t even know Aetna was a volcano–the word didn’t exist–although apparently earth tremors were quite frequent there.

Did you catch this exhibit? I believe its only stop is at Discovery Times Square. Or have you seen any other museum exhibits that you enjoyed recently?

p.s. you can enter a contest at Goodreads to win a copy of TELL ME MORE, my contemporary erotic romance which comes out in a couple of weeks.

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Margo Maguire
11 years ago

Janet – I heard lots of great things about the Pompeii exhibit, but never managed to get over there, much to my dismay. Was lovely to see you at the BoatHouse!

Rose Lerner
11 years ago

Susanna Fraser and I took it in. Awesome! I loved the water cooler with a charcoal filter. And yes, it really made me want to write about Regency archaeologists! I felt a little bad since Egyptian exhibits don’t make me feel this way and I don’t want to be so European-centric. But my uncle pointed out that it is different since most of the Egyptology of the time was tombs, whereas Pompeii was a living city…

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Acckk! I never heard of the exhibit! I would have loved to see it.

Janet, it sounds like you hung out with some lovely people, though.

I must say, I had some wonderful eating experiences off the conference site. All of them in Italian restaurants, coincidentally.

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

I made it to the MET to see the 1th century pastels, the 19th century “rooms with a view” and the Alexander McQueen exhibit. Well worth the time (plus I got to hang out with Miranda Neville, who I adore!).

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

And oh yes, Margo and I had a long chat about a bunch of stuff including whether Pompeii was known in the Regency, which of course it was!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

What a fascinating-looking exhibit (and yet another reason to be sorry I missed NYC, LOL!). I did see a different exhibit in Dallas a few years ago that had artifacts and recreations from Herculaneum, though there were no sound effects or Adult Warnings 🙂

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Glad you got to take in the exhibit, Janet! I loved the timeline video as well! And that fountain was amazing. The colors in it were so vivid!

Your assessment of the “brothel” room is spot on. Definitely underwhelmingly erotic! LOL

The casts of the bodies were the most poignant. The large one of thirteen bodies in the same room was particularly moving as twelve of the victims were children and the one adult was thought to be a physician.

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