Sarcophagus Fragment, Roman, ca. 240-250 CE, The Art Institute of Chicago

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pompeii comes to the National Gallery of Art

The art of Pompeii has always fascinated me. The beautiful frescoes, marble statues and mosaics are what started my love affair with ancient Rome and with ancient art in particular. Pompeii and the surrounding area gives us some of the best examples of Roman art from any period. The disastrous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE was a tragedy for the inhabitants of the Bay of Naples, but a goldmine of art and culture for historians.

I saw a similar Pompeii exhibit in Chicago years ago, but the current exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C sounds even better than what I experienced. Pompeii still holds sway over people today because of the tragedy of life as well as the eerie completeness in which the city was preserved. I am glad to hear that Pompeii and the Roman Villa is more than strictly an art show; it tries to bring visitors into feeling like they are in a roman villa. Adding features to art museums to give patrons a more enriching experience is an issue I have talked about at length, and I feel that the success of Pompeii and the Roman Villa will only help reinforce my point.