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Op-Ed: Richmond Doesn’t Need a Pompeii Exhibit Because We’ve All Been to Busch Gardens

Escape from Pompeii ride

With great fanfare, last month the Science Museum of Virginia welcomed the North American debut of “Pompeii: The Immortal City,” an in-depth look at the history and culture of the famed Italian city destroyed by a volcano more than 1900 years ago. The exhibit uses 3D models and reconstructions to provide visitors an immersive experience into the everyday life of Pomepiians and the decimation of their city by more than 20 feet of lava and ash.

So what? It’s not like we don’t all know the story. Every single one of us has been to Busch Gardens. 

A bunch of Italians lived by the ocean, making pottery and eating olives; they were steamrolled by a volcano, and then they all got Dippin’ Dots afterward. Do we really need to take up valuable museum space displaying artifacts and other Italian detritus when we could just spend ninety seconds on the Busch Gardens ride and get the picture? It was dark, it was hot, everyone got their photo taken while screaming, and then it was over. Getting mildly wet while hurtling down a hill in a boat has given each of us a sincere appreciation for what the ill-fated residents of Pompeii must have experienced during their incineration by pyroclastic flows. We get it. 

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Sure, in real life there may have been some heads literally exploding during the eruption, but that was basically your reaction, too, when you were six years old and first saw the bridge that you could stand on to get hit by the huge splash from the ride.

The exhibit also boasts more than 100 artifacts from Pompeii, demonstrating the understanding the early Italians had of science and technology and how it has impacted our lives today. Sadly, it doesn’t feature that hilarious plaster cast of the masturbating man. Total horse shit. You could probably see a guy jacking off at Busch Gardens if you just hung out in the stables where they keep the Clydesdales for five minutes.

My advice is to skip the exhibit at the Science Museum. It’s nothing you haven’t already experienced for the last 24 summers because the line was too long for the Loch Ness Monster.

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