“The Painters of Pompeii” opens June 26 at The Oklahoma City Museum of Art

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Oklahoma City – Beginning June 26, visitors to the OKCMOA will be transported to ancient Rome through the incredible wall paintings, or frescoes, of Pompeii and Herculaneum. “The Painters of Pompeii: Roman Frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum, Naples” highlights the rarely explored world of the ancient Roman painter and offers a glimpse into their processes, materials and techniques through over 80 artifacts and artworks. Open through Oct. 17, this historic presentation of the art of ancient Rome will be presented exclusively at OKCMOA before returning to Europe. 


“In 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering the seaside resort towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and volcanic rock,” said Dr. Michael J. Anderson, OKCMOA president and CEO. “The eruption preserved Roman luxury villas and homes until excavations began in the 1700s. These excavations unearthed extensive and richly colored frescoes painted on the walls of homes and public buildings throughout the cities.”  


“Early in the excavations, many of the paintings were cut out of the walls and taken to museums,” Anderson continued. “It is incredibly rare for ancient paintings to survive into the present day, much less to be taken to a museum for display. We are thrilled to provide the incredible opportunity to be immersed in the day-to-day lives of the ancient Romans.” 
“The Painters of Pompeii” highlights a seldom-seen medium–the Roman wall painting, which was prevalent in ancient Rome. The interiors of Roman buildings were sumptuously decorated with bold colors and designs that ranged in theme from mythology to landscapes to still lifes to architecture. Often, these paintings covered the entire wall, from floor to ceiling, and transported the viewer beyond the confines of the room. 


“This exhibition represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are offering many ways to engage with these incredible works of art,” said Rosie May, the Museum’s director of curatorial affairs and audience engagement. “We are thrilled to welcome several world-renowned scholars of ancient Roman art and history to the Noble Theater beginning in July. In addition to the lecture series, we will also offer public exhibition tours throughout the summer.” 
Staff-led public tours will be offered on select Fridays and Sundays throughout the exhibition and will provide conversation-based insights and close-looking experiences. Pre-registration is recommended and will begin June 29 at 10 a.m. Museum members will receive early access to registration on June 22 at 10 a.m. View the full schedule at okcmoa.com/pompeii
The lecture series will feature several of the most renowned scholars in the field of ancient Roman art and history. The series includes:  

  • “Pompeii: Myth and Reality,” by Kenneth Lapatin, Ph.D., Curator of Antiquities, The J. Paul Getty Museum  
  • “The Roman Artist at Work,” by John Clarke, Ph.D., Annie Laurie Howard Regents Professor, Department of Art & Art History, University of Texas at Austin  
  • “Baths, Bars, and Boudoirs: Sex and Gender in Ancient Rome,” by Leslie Mechem, Lecturer of Classics (Retired), Skidmore College  
  • “Visions of Food at Pompeii,” by Serena Connolly, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Classics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 

Funding for this program is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH. 


The Museum Store will also offer a selection of items inspired by Pompeii. In addition to an exhibition catalogue, books, prints and décor, seven local artists have created original works inspired by the exhibition that will be available for sale. The artists featured are Art Fusion (Tracey and Rick Bewley), Claudia Hunter, Joe Slack, Clint Stone, Jimmy Leach, Alice Wolf and William R. Struby. 
The exhibition is free for Museum members, kids 17 and under and active military as part of Blue Star Museums; tickets ($16 for adults) are on sale now. Free children’s admission is possible thanks to generous support from The Chickasaw Nation, The Ann Lacy Foundation, Cresap Family Foundation and Chuck and Renate Wiggin. Capacity is limited to ensure the safety of visitors. Pre-sales are strongly encouraged for this high-demand North American exclusive. 


Groups of 15 or more may book a guided tour. To make group reservations, including school tour reservations, please call (405) 278-8213. 


This exhibition is organized by the National Archaeological Museum, Naples and MondoMostre and is presented by George Records and the Inasmuch Foundation. 


More information is available at okcmoa.com/pompeii. 

About the Oklahoma City Museum of Art
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is one of the leading arts institutions in the region. The Museum presents a dynamic range of exhibitions organized from prestigious museums and collections throughout the world. The Museum’s own diverse collection features highlights from North America, Europe and Asia, with particular strengths in American art and postwar abstraction. The permanent collection also boasts one of the world’s largest public collections of Dale Chihuly glass, a major collection of photography by Brett Weston and the definitive museum collection of works by the Washington Color painter Paul Reed. The Museum’s renowned Samuel Roberts Noble Theater screens the finest international, independent, documentary and classic films. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. The Museum serves over 125,000 visitors annually from all fifty states and thirty foreign countries.