Explore daily life and tragic end of ancient city of Pompeii at Union Station’s new exhibit

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What nature destroyed, it also preserved.

That's the tagline of the upcoming exhibit at Union Station. Pompeii: The Exhibition is making its North American premier here in Kansas City on November 18, Union Station representatives announced Wednesday.

The new show will tell the story of the once-bustling Italian city built on the base of Mount Vesuvius, which was completely destroyed when the volcano erupted in 79 A.D., burying the entire city under 12 feet of ash.

The city lay hidden from view and forgotten by the world until its re-discovery in the 1730s.

While the sudden, rapid burial of the city was an utter disaster for the estimated 11,000 people living there, it also immaculately preserved that glimpse of life in the ancient world.

The exhibit will consist of nearly 200 authentic artifacts, some for their first time outside of Italy, on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

John Norman, the exhibit's producer and past-collaborator with Union Station's previous shows, Real Pirates, The Discovery of King Tut, and others, said the Pompeii exhibition will "take visitors on a journey back in time to 79 A.D. The artifacts tell the stories of how the people lived, loved, worked, and unfortunately died."

Among the ancient relics are everyday objects like kitchenware, as well as artwork such as frescoes and mosaics, a statue of Apollo, and a bronze gladiator helmet.

It will also feature a half dozen full-size human plaster casts, which capture the haunting final moments of citizens in Pompeii as they perished in the eruption.

As archaeologists unearthed the city and found human remains, they noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster into the spaces, the final poses, clothing, and even faces of the last residents of Pompeii came to life.


A human plaster cast captures the haunting final moments of a citizen of Pompeii.

Visitors will also experience the eruption in an immersive 4D theater.

The show will debut November 18 and continue through spring.


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