Chicago Through March 26
Few historical events have had a greater hold on the popular imagination than the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted. One reason for the enduring interest is the sheer scale of destruction: Thousands died. Another reason is owing to the nature of the destruction. Volcanic ash preserved numerous objects from the ravages of time. Although the ash did not preserve the bodies of those who died, hollows were left behind as the victims' flesh decomposed. Plaster casts of those hollows give a uniquely immediate sense of the people of those times, especially when seen in conjunction with their preserved possessions. In presenting many of those casts and objects, the Field Museum's ''Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption" offers a rare window into everyday life in the Roman Empire.
1400 South Lake Shore Drive. 312-922-9410. www.fieldmuseum.org.
Charles Darwin (1809-82) was the greatest scientist of the 19th century. His theory of evolution didn't revolutionize only biology but all of Western thought. Just how revolutionary it remains is evident in the ongoing controversy over the teaching of intelligent design as an alternate theory of biological development. ''Darwin," at the American Museum of Natural History, is the most comprehensive exhibition devoted to the scientist and his work. It looks at his achievements in botany and geology, as well as evolution. (For those who dislike New York and/or are in no hurry, the exhibition is scheduled to come to the Museum of Science in 2007.)
Central Park West at 79th Street. 212-769-5000. www.amnh.org.
Paris Through Jan. 9
Next year, the Cinémathèque Française, the world's most storied film museum, celebrates its 70th anniversary. In September, it moved from a building across from the Eiffel Tower to a new home, designed by architect Frank Gehry for the now-defunct American Cultural Center, on the eastern edge of Paris. The cinémathèque is best known for its numerous screenings of classic films, but it also mounts temporary exhibitions. Currently on display is ''Renoir/Renoir," which juxtaposes the work of master filmmaker Jean Renoir with that of his father, the Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
51 rue de Bercy. 011-33-1-71 19-3333. www.cinemathequefrancaise.com.
London Through Feb. 5
Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) never visited the jungles he so memorably painted -- for that matter, he never left his native France -- but that lack of firsthand experience simply worked to make his tropical canvases that much more vivid. There is an intensity of imagination to these images that helps ensure their status as among the most popular and entrancing in the history of modern art. They are a unique blend of the surreal and primitive, the exotic and mundane. Rousseau didn't paint jungles exclusively, but these landscapes are his most assured and characteristic work. Bringing together 50 of these paintings, Tate Modern is mounting the first Rousseau exhibition in Britain in 80 years.
Bankside. 011-44-20-7887-8000. www.tate.org.uk/modern.
Last month, the Reagan Presidential Library put on permanent display the
40 Presidential Drive. 800-410-8354. www.reaganlibrary.org.
Contact Mark Feeney at firstname.lastname@example.org.