Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ONE DAY IN POMPEII (and the Franklin Institute)

Yesterday Joe and I gave my sister Elaine an early Christmas gift.  The three of us went to the Franklin Institute to see the exhibit "One Day in Pompeii".  It was amazing!  Did I tell you it was amazing?  Well, it was amazing!

This time when we went we actually found the indoor parking garage attached to the museum.  That was good since we had gotten 8 inches of snow and the temperature was in the 20s.  So we took the elevator up, checked in with our tickets that I had bought ahead of time, and headed for the exhibit.

Really, we didn't know what to expect.  What we got was mind-blowing.  It began with a short 3 minute film about Pompeii before its destruction.  At the end some doors automatically opened and you walked into a room with a huge statute of a Roman god greeting you.  Very impressive.

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It took about an hour or maybe a little more to walk through the whole exhibit.  Of course we stopped, looked at everything and read all the signs explaining each piece.  There were tons of frescos on the walls,  Each room had something different explaining a part of their lifestyle.  One room was their kitchen.  Another the bedroom.  Still another their market place and the gladiators.  Did you ever see real armor from a real gladiator?  I never thought I would, but I did yesterday.  They had plumbing (including indoor plumbing) and some engineering things that we are still using today (and some things we can't even do today)Joe was amazed that they had hydraulic valves similar to those he had worked with.  The jewelry and dishes and glassware were exquisite.  I looked at them and thought some woman just like me saw them when they were new 2000 years ago and was as enchanted as I was.  Such a strange feeling.

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At the end we saw another short film that showed the last day of Pompeii.  It began like any other day, but around 1 p.m. the ground started shaking.  And you could feel the room we were in shaking.  Then when the smoke came on the screen, the room we were in filled with steam/smoke like you see in plays.  Very effective.  At the end the screen went up and the final room was the casts of the people who died.  There were six of them and it was very emotional and exceptional.

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You know I would have taken pictures if I could, but there was no picture taking allowed and there were guards around to enforce it and make sure you didn't touch anything.  So I found these pictures on google and the Franklin Institute website.  But it was amazing!  I think I said that before.

Of course you exit into a gift shop.  I bought a new tote bag and a gift for Joe that I've put away for Christmas.  Joe got a magnet for our fridge.  Every time we go to an exhibit we get a magnet from it.

We sat down for a few minutes on a bench right outside of the store.  There was a man riding the sky bike, so I got a shot of him.  The sky bike runs on a tight rope three stories up.  It does have a net so if you fall you won't get hurt.  But I would never do it.  Too scary.

 Oh yes, I took my cane with me this time.  When we went to see the Titanic exhibit I didn't and was in so much pain from my back.  This helped a lot.  But I found out that they have free wheel chairs so if it's ever really bad I can still go and Joe can push me.

I wanted to go see the "Amazing Machines" room.  It's a small room, but really fun.  At the Franklin Institute almost everything is interactive.  Elaine, Joe and I have been going there since we were little kids and when we are there we revert back to those kids.  So of course we were playing with everything.

There were a couple of music boxes that were pretty cool.

Did you see the movie "Hugo"?  This is the automotron that the one in the movie was based on.  So cool.

Here is an old Singer pedal sewing machine.

Joe was interested in a thermostat.


There was a big maze where you had to get a ball from the outside to the middle by moving the maze up and down and back and forth.  Elaine tried and tried and almost got it several times, but never quite.  Joe tried and got it the first time.  Show off!

Elaine and I wanted to go through the giant heart.  We've been doing this for at least 40 years.  But Joe was tired and wanted to rest, so we left our coats and purses with him and went to the heart room.

On the way we passed by the pendulum.  You know I had to get a picture of that.

The giant heart is one of the main things visitors to the Franklin Institute want to do.  You become a drop of blood, visit the different parts of the heart and the lungs (with sound effects) and then exit out.  Kids especially love it.  But Elaine and I have never grown tired of going through it.  Most people do it more than once, but we didn't want to leave Joe alone too long.

On the way back to meet up with Joe we went through the courtyard with the giant (and I do mean giant) statue of Benjamin Franklin.  We took this opportunity to get a picture of the two of us.

We were tired by now (had been walking around for three hours), so we decided to go home, get lunch and then hit the dollar stores looking for Christmas bargains.  But that's a post for another day.


  1. What a splendiferous present!! And for three people to be able to share the same childhood memories---that's a super-unique gift, right there.

    I read the whole thing thinking of the time in 1978 that Sis and I went to see the King Tut exhibit in New Orleans---it took the whole day, with a pause for lunch in an immense Royal Tent with gilded palm-tree posts and such an atmosphere---I can still fell and smell the wonder of all that.

    And toward the end, Sis' little battery-pack narration set (Charlton Heston speaking) with her earphones gave out, and we spend the rest of the afternoon with one arm around each other like sweethearts, with both of us plugged into mine. (the fact that she was about seven months pregnant was probably a source of talk amongst the other tourists---us two ladies being so brazenly demonstrative and all).

    I'm so glad you now have this wonderful memory to share, and wish you many-many more bright rememberings all through this special season. Thank you so much for brighting mine by joining in at Lawn Tea. You're welcome any time.


    1. I saw the King Tut exhibit also. It was several years ago also at the Franklin Institute and again with Joe and Elaine. The three of us like going to the special exhibits.

  2. Do excuse the typos. The tee-ninecy little letters in these comment boxes are hard for my aging eyes to read, even if I wrote them.

  3. Wow, first you guys are brave to venture out with snow and temps in the 20's! I visited Pompeii when I went to Italy in the early 90's, and it was really spectacular. Especially the bodies preserved in the lava. I would enjoy this exhibit. You guys do the fun-est things! xo

  4. This sounds like such an awesome outing. I would have loved seeing all these beautiful displays. Your images gave me the feeling that I was there with you. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience. I wish you and your family a joyous Christmas season.

  5. What fun! I've been fascinated by Pompeii my whole life. You're so lucky to have seen the artifacts in person. Thanks for posting the photos. -- Jan

  6. It sounds like it was awesomely done. It really enhances the outing when you can share it with special people.I love the fact The Institute is so interactive. How can you not want to go play with everything?
    Stay warm!


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