ROME Scenes of Roman life, myths and decorations, buried nearly two millennia ago by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, go on display for the first time in years in an exhibit opening the end of December in Rome.
The show at the National Roman Museum brings together more than 100 artworks that adorned private and public buildings in Pompeii, Herculaneum and other towns near Naples that were destroyed by the eruption in A.D. 79.
Many of the works have not been seen for as long as a decade while they sat in storage at the Archaeological Museum in Naples, which has been undergoing yearslong renovations, officials said.
The frescoes themselves have had lengthy restorations to revive colors and figures that, in some cases, had almost completely faded, said Maria Luisa Nava, archaeological superintendent in the southern Italian city.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius killed thousands but preserved the Roman settlements under layers of volcanic ash, providing modern scholars with precious information on domestic life in the ancient world.
Early archaeologists who began excavating Pompeii in the 18th century were struck by the art decorating entire rooms in the richest of the Roman homes. The signature bright red used in much Roman painting was so vivid among the ruins of Pompeii that the particular hue was named after the city.
"Pompeii Red" is also the title of the exhibition, held among the statues and artifacts permanently displayed in the Roman museum.
On display is art ranging from the mythical to the mundane, from Theseus standing triumphant over the body of the Minotaur to still lifes showing what could be found in the pantry of a wealthy Roman kitchen. Delicacies on the menu included dried fruits, mushrooms and moray eels.
King Charles of Bourbon, the 18th-century monarch of Naples, began removing the frescoes from the archaeological sites to protect them from looters.
A few more recent discoveries are also included in the exhibition. These include an entire room from a Pompeii home decorated with garden motifs as well frescoes of deities on a red background from an ancient hotel found in 2000 during construction of a highway near the site.
The show runs through March 20 and admission costs $14. The exhibition also offers a lab where children can learn fresco techniques and make their own Roman artwork.