Pompeii Live is a first of its kind experience from The British Museum. On Tuesday 18th June the museum will be broadcasting an exclusive private viewing of its latest major exhibition, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, live into cinemas across the world. It’s an exciting idea which makes the museum more accessible than ever for the culturally-inclined less able.
The live screenings, held at over 280 cinemas in the UK and over 1,000 cinemas in 51 countries around the world, will offer a unique insight into the exhibition from the comfort of your local cinema. This form of screening has been successfully used to show performances of plays, operas and ballets but Pompeii Live is the first time that it will be used to go inside a museum exhibition.
Gearing up for Pompeii Live at The British Museum © The Trustees of the British Museum
It’s perhaps a less obvious thing to show at the cinemas, than something like a play, but Pompeii Live is going to be much much more than just a look around the exhibition. The event is going to bring experts along to provide viewers with insights that they wouldn’t get by viewing the exhibition alone. Contributions from historian Mary Beard, Rachel de Thame revealing life in the garden, Giorgio Locatelli in the kitchen and Bettany Hughes will help to create a one-off experience.
Seeing the exhibition on screen, as well as allowing you to relax and enjoy it from a comfortable seat, means that they will be able to inter-cut films specially recorded in Italy, showing Pompeii and Herculaneum and the sleeping Vesuvius. Accordingly, many of the limitations of seeing the exhibition in the normal way, such as time and space, are removed. You can be in the British Museum’s version of Pompeii one second and then seeing the real thing the next. Pompeii Live will enhance the exhibition, bring it to life on a scale never before seen.
Wall painting of the baker Terentius Neo and his wife. From the House of Terentius Neo, Pompeii. AD 50–79. © Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei
It sounds amazing and it’s an absolutely ideal way for the less able to see the exhibition. Pompeii Live will be shown in the cinemas of all the major UK cinema groups, including Cineworld, Odeon, Picturehouse and Vue, as well as at independent venues across the UK. It takes away many issues that less able people may have with getting to the museum and around the exhibition. It’s just a much easier way to see the exhibition and the effort and creativity put into Pompeii Live means that the sights of the exhibition won’t be diminished but enhanced.
The majority of cinemas involved should be accessible. Certainly, all of the big chains talk the talk about their commitments to accessibility. With over 280 cinemas participating, we simply don’t have the time or space to cover them all here. But if you don’t know already, you can call your local cinema to find out about their accessibility.
It’s a one-off screening next Tuesday (the 18th of June) beginning at 7pm and lasts about 90 minutes. If you do want to go, you need to book in advance because over 80% of tickets have been sold. Time’s running out and some cinemas will have sold out already. We just hope this isn’t too late.
Also, bear in mind that there won’t be any adverts or trailers before the screening – when they say it starts and seven they mean that it starts at seven. We’ve noticed a couple of cinemas saying it starts at 6.35 – ignore that, it’s just to make you sit through 25 minutes of adverts.
Pompeii Live is an unprecedented event and it’s going to be fascinating to see how they bring the exhibition to life on screen. It’s an opportunity to see the exhibition in a whole new way and also to be part of something pretty exciting as people across the country gather to watch it. It’s a great, accessible way to see The British Museum live and in all its glory. Hopefully Pompeii Live will be a massive success and more of these screenings will be available in the future.
Pompeii Live © The Trustees of the British Museum