Friday, December 7, 2007

Finally Saw Birmingham

Well, at least a little. I finished with the last session I decided to go to at about 3:15. Took my bags back to the hotel and was back at the conference center by 4:00. I had heard that the Pompeii exhibit was at the Birmingham Museum of Art and I decided that I wanted to do at least one thing outside of the conference while I'm here. I asked for directions, set off on foot, and found my way to the Museum.

The exhibit was going to close only an hour after I got there. Museum staff directed me to where they suggested I would find the best stuff and I headed up there. The exhibit was fascinating. I can remember when I was in elementary school, reading about and looking at pictures of the plaster casts of people who had died in Pompeii and Herculean when Vesuvius erupted. Here I was, finally standing in front of some of those casts, along with a lot of jewelry and other artifacts that have been excavated.

Standing before the large frescoes, looking at the beautiful jewelry, and reading about where they were found and what bodies had been found hit me profoundly. I imagined how awful that day must have been for those people, with the sky turning black, the ash closing in, and the final pyroclastic cloud that took their lives. Some of the plaster casts were so poignant, mothers clutching their children in death, some very young, others teenagers - in the end, mom's response to such an emergency is to protect her young and a child's natural instinct is to cling to mother.

I'm glad I went, although the walk home was a little scary for me - it was getting dark and I was not in the best part of town. Today was the end of my Birmingham experience - I plan to sleep a little late in the morning and head straight to the airport, so my convention-going is over. It's been a good visit, though.

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