8 Family Favourite Features at the ROM’s Pompeii Exhibit

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I had just finished high school and was visiting a friend living in Germany. The benefit to visiting Europe is the ability to travel to other countries quite easily. We drove to German and France but my favourite trip was a bus excursion we took to Italy.

Seeing sites in person that I only had knowledge of from books and movies is an awe inspiring experience. The city of Pompeii was one such site. I hope to travel with my family to Europe someday but for now our window into the world occurs through museums and art galleries. That world view just got a little bigger with the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibit Pompeii. In The Shadow of the Volcano (from Saturday, June 13, 2015 to Sunday, January 3, 2016).


We marvelled at the exquisite nature of gems and jewelry, the detail in the glass and pottery, as well as the still vibrant colour of mosaics. For items almost 2,000 years old they were remarkably well preserved. The ROM’s Pompeii exhibit features approximately 200 artifacts giving visitors a peek into everyday life in the village of Pompeii as it sat at the base of Mount Vesuvius.


History for many kids can be perceived as boring and although volcanos are an interesting topic, the ROM’s Pompeii exhibit focuses more on the life of the villagers and the aftermath of the eruption. If you’re visiting the exhibit with kids, my family recommends visiting these 8 highlights:

TOUCH a large piece of pumice from Mount Vesuvius.

DRESS in a toga, a type of dress reserved for male Roman citizens. There are instructions on the wall as to how to wrap the cloth. Don’t forget to take a photo.

FIGHT as a gladiator. The Retiarius or “net men” fought using a weighted net and trident. You may not be able to wield the net but you can sure act the part for a photo opp.


SHOP at the market. A great interactive display encourages kids to shop and weight items in the market as well as feel the weight of the jugs carried containing liquids like olive oil and wine.


INSPECT the amazing detail in the Mosaic of a Woman. From a distance it looks like a painting but get right up close to see the intricate detail created using tesserae, tiny coloured pieces of limestone.


CREATE a mosaic. Inspired by the previous painting try your hand at making a mosaic with magnetic tiles


VISIT Pompeii through a collection of stereophonic slides, giving historic images a 3-Dimentional affect


READ about how Romans kept rats in small ceramic pots for the purpose of eating. They were designed with ramps so the rats could run up to be fed but they couldn’t escape the pot. You can see one of these pots in the display cases. This is just one of many interesting little tidbits you’ll discover.

Of course the last section of the exhibit, The Human Toll, is the most dramatic. Seeing the casts of people found in Pompeii and reading the stories created based on their surroundings had all of my kids transfixed. They especially loved the model illustrating how casts were made onsite. Some of the casts on display include several new copies created using leading-edge 3D technology.


Although the exhibit didn’t capture the same awe I experienced when visiting Pompeii, it did give my kids a chance to get a better understanding of what happened so long ago. The exhibit, POMPEII, In The Shadow of the Volcano also demonstrates how devastating and unpredictable natural disasters can be and how science, technology, and historians can help us understand life long before our own.


You can learn more about the ROM’s exhibit, Pompeii, In the Shadow of the Volcano by visiting their site. If you do get a chance to visit before it leaves Toronto in January, be sure to share your images on social media using the hashtag #ROMpeii

Thanks to the folks at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for the chance to experience the new exhibit.

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