A Volcanic Exhibit Arrives Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

PompeiiON THE walkway that leads to the entrance to its current traveling exhibit, “One Day in Pompeii,” the Franklin Institute has proudly erected banners commemorating similar blockbuster shows of recent years. This afternoon, as I waited for the doors to open to the Pompeii exhibit, I spied flags for Body Worlds, King Tut, Star Wars, and other prior attractions. I was reminded of my long-ago days as a science writer, when we ran stories questioning whether such show business sullies a museum’s mission or serves as a hold-your-nose necessity in order to bring paying customers through the turnstiles so that the study and celebration of actual science can continue.

I’m sympathetic to both sides, but in this case, the Institute has whiffed.

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