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Around mid-morning on August 24, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted. Molten rock and pumice were expelled from the volcano at a rate of 1.5 million tons per second. Rocks and volcanic ash filled the atmosphere, turning day into night.

Within 24 hours, the Roman city of Pompeii lay destroyed – and perfectly preserved – under 15 feet of ash and volcanic debris. Now come experience both the splendor of Ancient Rome when Pompeii bustled as a commercial port and strategic military and trading city and the horror and aftermath of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum’s all new exhibition, Pompeii (opening 6 October 2018).

I was delighted on 2 October to be invited to the media preview at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that the curating team from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples were still hard at work setting up the exhibition. 

Unfortunately that also meant that I could not personally experience and relate back to you the “4D Eruption Theater [that] will allow visitors to experience the impact Mount Vesuvius had on this ancient city.” According to the press release, it is an immersive 4-D CGI experience of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Melissa Giller, Chief Marking Officer, says “the room sort of explodes on you.” Sounds amazing, right? 


Through the use of projections, audio, video, photographic murals, and graphic reproductions of frescoes and mosaics, visitors will experience different locations that existed in the city, including a market, a temple, theater, and baths.

Over 150 authentic artifacts

These artifacts will help bring the story of Pompeii to life. These remarkable objects include: mosaics and frescoes, gladiator helmets, armor, and weapons, a ship’s anchor, lamps, jugs, cups, plates, pots and pans and other household objects and furniture, jewelry, medical instruments, and tools.

The Ash Column Room

The only replicas on display are full body casts to be found in the Ash Column room that were being uncrated when the press preview was happening.
Ash Replica. (c) The Joyous Living.
Ash Replica of Dog. (c) The Joyous Living.
Ash Replica Crate. (c) the Joyous Living.
An exciting note is that two of the exhibits are being made available to an American audience for the first time.  #AnAmericanDebut
Aphrodite. (c) the Joyous Living.

A statue of Aphrodite takes center stage in one of the ground floor rooms (there is an elevator for the accessibly challenged) and there are three horse bridles on display (also on the ground floor).

Pompeii Horse Bridles. (c) The Joyous Living.
Pompeii Horse Bridles. (c) The Joyous Living.
Pompeii Horse Bridles. (c) The Joyous Living.
This not-to-be-missed exhibition (open through April 2019) is thrilling for adults and appropriate for the whole family. For more information and to pre-purchase tickets, please visit
The Reagan Library is located at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, California.  Public hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  The Museum is only closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.  For Museum Admission fees, please visit  As large crowds are expected to view the exhibition, pre-purchased timed-entry tickets are recommended by visiting  For more information, call (800) 410.8354 or visit


Produced by IMG
Pompeii Exhibition in Progress. (c) The Joyous Living.

Accessibility Note:

The museum is 100% wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator next to the staircase that leads to/from the ground floor.


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