June 19, 1978 12:00 PM

From those who recall Steve Reeves walking around in a skimpy outfit speaking poorly dubbed English in the Italian disaster film The Last Days of Pompeii to connoisseurs of antiquarian art—everyone can find something intriguing in this exhibit. On loan from Italian museums and brought to the U.S. after record attendance all over Europe, it includes 300 artifacts preserved almost perfectly when on the morning of August 24, A.D. 79, nearby Vesuvius erupted and in 31 hours buried Pompeii and its 20,000 residents under volcanic ash and pumice. The objects range from mosaics found in the villas of the wealthy to gladiators’ equipment to plaster casts of a woman and a dog, both trapped as they tried to escape. The collection is, until July 16, at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where it is displayed alongside a showing of prints, drawings and photographs with the ingenious title “The Pleasure of Ruins.” So far more than 200,000 people in Boston have seen the Pompeii exhibit, which moves to Chicago in August, Dallas in December and New York next year. It portrays a life-style familiar in many ways, down to the elegant but hard-core erotic graffiti on public walls and the response one irate but not humorless citizen had written alongside an offending passage: “I wonder, wall, that you don’t go smash / Who have to bear the weight of all this trash.”

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