in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius

It’s become a bit of a summer tradition now, my sister and I going to the ROM :)

This year the feature exhibit is Pompeii. I loved learning about Pompeii when I was a kid! :D (and had dreams about becoming an archaeologist or a paleontologist, and once in a while I wonder about what my life would be like now if I had followed my dreams… anyway, I digress)

Usually when I hear about Pompeii the images of the body casts come to mind. And there were casts of the body casts in the exhibit too. But I found myself more attracted to marvelous mosaics, made of tiny, probably 1mm x 1mm pieces of clay. I’m quite surprised by how well these were preserved, despite the fire and the heat of the volcano eruption.

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I imagine the artisan’s hand, placing these clay chips one by one carefully onto wet grout, tracing the lines on the face, the subtle tonal variations of the skin.

And this is my favourite in the exhibit, the spectacular sea life mosaic.

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The phone photo really doesn’t do it justice. It is quite large in person. Looks like the octopus is battling a lobster‐like creature. Here’s a close up of the octopus, made of many tiny tiles.

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This must have taken a long, long time to make. I imagine the artisan(s) taking a step back after the last tile was put into place, and feeling incredible joy and satisfaction when they saw what they have created.

I was also surprised by the survival of the many frescoes, like this one, of seafood.

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Intrigued by the sculpture’s very intricate hairstyle.

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Figs and bread carbonized in the eruption.

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There was also a video projection showing the eruption, with this wide‐eyed statue in front of it. Looked to me like it was frozen in terror.

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Mike went on this trip with my sister and me, and he hadn’t been to other parts of the museum for a while, so we also toured the dinosaur galleries and the biodiversity gallery. There was an exhibit of the new dinosaur discovery! And! This is a 3‐D printed model!

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Wendiceratops pinhornensis, named after the Canadian fossil hunter, Wendy Sloboda, who discovered it in Alberta, Canada :)

In the biodiversity gallery I was hoping to find a display of fungi. I’ve been to this part of the museum many times, but I thought maybe I’ve always missed it. Finally I found it, replicas in the Boreal Forest section, I think, as well as a drawer of dried mushrooms that were difficult to tell what they actually looked like before they were picked. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a larger display of more species of fungi and mushrooms, but this is still nice :)

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So that was the end of our adventure to the ROM. I hope you will get a chance to visit if you’re ever in the neighbourhood! :D I’m looking forward to finding out what next summer’s feature exhibition will be! Maybe it will be on the diversity of mushrooms and fungi! :D One can always dream… (I once saw a course at a local university titled “Mushrooms: Lords of the Dark Earth”. I so wanted to take the course but it wasn’t being offered anymore… anyway.)

Hope everyone is having a good week!

 

 

6 thoughts on “in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius

  1. Hi Trish,

    Yes, they are very beautiful and so clever. The ancients really seemed to venerate their artisans and appreciate them a lot more than society does these days. I guess also no computers, tvs etc led to more time to practice these skills.

    I saw the exact same Pompeii exhibition in Melbourne several years ago and found it fascinating. Wasn’t the film incredible? I will never forget that, the art and the casts, of course. And the figs. Amazing how they survived. Thank you for reminding me of this. I really enjoyed this post.

    Cheers

    VB (in Sydney)

  2. Hi Trish,
    I agree — Pompeii is fascinating! I was so lucky to visit Pompeii some years ago, when I was visiting Rome with my brother. A really interesting place — and having a brother who is a historian it was like having your own guided tour!

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