By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The legendary story of Pompeii, Italy — wiped out by a volcano in 79 AD — comes to life at the Franklin Institute, beginning this Saturday.

Many of the remarkable artifacts on display will make their North American debut.

The exhibit, “One Day in Pompeii,” gives an extraordinary snapshot of life in Pompeii, courtesy of Mount Vesuvius.

The  cataclysmic eruption buried the town and thousands of its inhabitants in vocanic ash and debris — but it also preserved it, according to the museum’s creative director, Mark Lach.

“Things look like they were just taken out of protective cabinets yesterday, but they were lost under all this ash and stone and now here they are in the exhibition,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

Items include frescos, statues, gold jewelry, and gladiator gear — including a dented bronze helmet.

The big finish features a CGI video of that disastrous day.  The floor rumbles beneath your feet and the room fills with white smoke as you watch Pompeii with the eruption unfolding.  Then,  visitors are led to a room featuring full-body casts of victims frozen in time.

(Credit: The Franklin Institute)

(Credit: The Franklin Institute)


“One Day in Pompeii” runs November 9, 2013 through April 27, 2014 (except during certain holidays), at the Franklin Institute, 20th and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in Philadelphia.

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