Yesterday I went to the Cincinnati Museum Center in Cincinnati, OH. It was a family outing and most of the day I simply enjoyed the time with my family, doing fun stuff with my daughter and looking at things. However, there is an exhibit there now called A Day In Pompeii, which features hundreds of artifacts from the buried city, along with videos, pictures and historical information alongside. It’s a very good exhibit, and if you’re within decent driving distance, I think it’s well worth the trip. It’s a national touring exhibit, so if you aren’t near Ohio, it may be coming to a museum near you in the next few years. Since my daughter’s too young, my wife and I alternated seeing the exhibit, and while pictures of artifacts and such aren’t exactly exciting, the final room presented some opportunities.
The last room in the exhibit contains plaster casts of the actual victims of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. When the ash settled and hardened during the eruption, it blanketed citizens of Pompeii, freezing them in their final moments. While the actual bodies have long since decomposed, the cavity left by their body in the hardened ash preserves their shape. These casts were produced by filling the void left by the body. They are haunting, and the exhibit has lit them and presented them in a way that really lets the impact of the disaster hit home. I tried to capture that in my photographs and find the emotional connection. Hopefully I succeeded.