Union Station tells tragic tale of ancient city’s destruction with grand opening of Pompeii: The Exhibition

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was a moment of terror, forever preserved in history. Now Kansas Citians can get a glimpse of the destruction of the ancient Italian city of Pompeii at a Union Station exhibit.

The city was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D.

History tells us close to 2,000 people died when that volcano erupted, sending volcanic gas, ash, and blasts of heat engulfed the bustling city.

"A lot of people did not flee and they stayed, and perished because of that," said John Norman. Norman operates Exhibitions International, a group that gathered these artifacts in association with the Italian government.

"The one thing about the appreciation for art in general and the big mosaics are all here, but then there's jewelry, and just some fine, really small pieces," Norman said.

Historians didn't search the Pompeii site the 1700s when a treasure trove of history was unearthed.

"What nature destroyed, it also preserved," said George Costello, Union Station president. He plays host to numerous exhibits every year, which are proving to be moneymakers.

"To be able to bring almost 200 artifacts from Naples and Pompeii is a great coup for Union Station, but is also a great coup Kansas City," Costello said.

Costello said that loss of life really sets this exhibit apart from others. The exhibit features a number of plaster casts of actual bodies that were preserved at the eruption site.

Pompeii: The Exhibition opens Friday to the general public and runs through spring. Get more information or purchase tickets here.