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Museo Archeologico Virtuale (MAV)
Museo Archeologico Virtuale (MAV) Review
Dazzling "virtual" versions of Herculaneum's streets and squares, computerized re-creations of the House of the Faun, even a multi-D simulation of Vesuvius erupting: Herculaneum's 1st-century-meets-the-21st-century museum extravaganza has it all. After stopping at the ticket office for the headset audio tour (€3), you descend, as in an excavation, to a floor below. Passing ancient faces that have now been given a name, the "percorso" path inserts you inside a re-creation of Herculaneum's first dig, replete with voices echoing from large terra-cotta vases.
You'll experience Herculaneum's Villa dei Papiri before and—even more dramatically—during the eruption, courtesy of special effects; enter "the burning cloud" of 79 AD (actually vaporized water); then emerge, virtually speaking, inside Pompeii's House of the Faun, which can be seen both as it is and (depending on a mere movement of your feet) as it was for two centuries BC. The next re-creation—complete with rippling grass and moving cart and oxen—is again Villa dei Papirii. Then comes a stellar pre- and post-flooding view of Baia's "Nymphaeum," the now-displaced statues arrayed as they were in the days of Emperor Claudius who commissioned them. Another screen displays Villa Jovis, Tiberius's residence on Capri.
Visitors here are also invited to take a front-row seat for "Day and Night in the Forum of Pompeii," with soldiers, litter-bearing slaves, and toga-clad figures moving spectrally to complete the spell; or to make a vicarious visit to the "Lupari" brothels, their various pleasures illustrated in virtual and graphic frescoes along the walls. There are holograms of jewelry of the earthquake fugitives and a touch-and-browse section of the Papyrii's 1,800 scrolls, too. Recent installations add reconstructions of Herculaneum's theater and baths, and Pompeii's gladiator school. The most spectacular of all, though, is a vivid simulation of the eruption of Vesuvius, with even the floor vibrating to give you an as-close-to-real-as-possible feel for what happened that fateful day. "Wisdom begins in wonder," said Socrates and this museum does a great job in proving the ancient philosopher correct.
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