Joelyn's Museum Escapades

Museum Escapades: Pompeii – Life in a Roman Town

Museum Escapades

We had the Greek mythological gods from the Louvre exhibition in 2008, then we had the Ancient Egyptian exhibition about Mummies and mummification in 2010. Now they brought the Ancient Romans in. Pompeii to be exact.


Just a bit of background information, Pompeii was a town in Ancient Rome, completely wiped out in 79CE during the epic eruption of Vesuvius. This exhibit held at the National Museum of Singapore showcases the final hours and how the people of Pompeii were thought to have lived their lives through the unearthed artifacts.

So the museum crew this time included the usual crew – Sarah, Raven, Mintea and Avarielle. Meeting at the National Museum, we headed down to the basement, where the exhibition was.

The entrance to any exhibit in the basement usually presents itself with a dark welcome. However, the thing that struck us (or at least myself) the most was the cast resin bodies of the victims. Unsettling to say the least.

They are resin casts, nothing to worry about. But unsettling to say the least.

To be honest, the entire exhibition was one of the most depressing exhibits that I have ever been to. Not in an offensive way, but it was just such a sad thing because everyone knew that Pompeii was destroyed and buried at the end of the day.

One of the first few exhibits we saw upon entrance was a 3D recreation of the final hours. Until today, the depressing sounds are still kinda stuck in my head. The sad thing about the eruption was that the victims probably didn’t think it was going to be that bad. And by the time they knew, it was too late.

Cooking Utensils in a row.
Warrior’s Helmet. Looks crazily heavy.
Hephaetus (or Zeus, can’t remember), Aphrodite, Poseidon, Hermes.
Statue commonly found in Necropolis
Most interesting/ plot-worthy artefact. Guess what it is.
Apparently most civilisations had the right idea when it came to certain activities. They may be European but I screamed, “TAU HUAY JUI!!” when I saw this.

The next few exhibits focussed on how life was lived in the land of Pompeii, showcasing earthen ware, philosophies in medicine, religion (mostly mythological), death (necropolis) and art.

A comparatively well-preserved fresco.
A partially damaged mosaic. But still maintaining its subtle beauty.

While most of the frescoes (paintings painted on while the plaster is still wet) were in pieces, we realized that most of them still kept their structure and pieces thanks to the boiling volcanic mud that filled up the houses. And while stuff like that killed the people, it preserved many of their possessions well.

But depressing show and interesting exhibits aside, the end provided some kind of activity for the children. To heck with for the children, it got us excited like crazy.

Warrior helmets for the win!


Generally speaking, I would say this is one of the few exhibits that would stick in my head for a long time. I had a fear of museum exhibits when I was young, thinking the wax figures would come after me in my sleep.

This one lingers in my head, one of the very few to do so after I started going to museums for the fun of it. Disturbing to say the least, a reminder of the fragility of one’s life.

Pompeii: Life in a Roman Town is in the National Museum of Singapore until 23 Jan 2011. Not much time left to actually go see it so grab your chance while you still can!

For more information on the exhibit, click here.

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