Once a playground for wealthy vacationing Romans, Pompeii was a town precariously built near an active volcano and—well, we all know how that ended. The National Gallery of Art’s “Pompeii and the Roman Villa” shows in a fully immersive manner how the rich and famous lived in the ancient version of Martha’s Vineyard. The exhibit recreates frescoes and mosaics that would have been found on the floors and walls of a Pompeiian seaside villa, and artifacts range from elaborate jewelry to everyday objects. Fair warning to those drawn to the macabre parts of Pompeii’s story: The destruction and later excavation of the town don’t get as much attention from the curators as the interior design of a typical home does.

THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. MONDAYS THROUGH SATURDAYS AND 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M. SUNDAYS TO SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009, AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, 4TH ST. AND CONSTITUTION AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215.

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