Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber


I had a chance at an advance viewing of Tutankhamun The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs yesterday afternoon, so departed from work about 1 and made my way to the Atlanta Civic Center's exhibit hall. The exhibit doesn't open until to the public until Saturday--this afternoon session was for patrons of the Carlos Museum at Emory. (There were a few CNN photographers wandering around doing publicity shots, too.) My thought was that this would be fewer people in the exhibit than when it goes public, so I'd have a more leisurely experience. My tolerance for shuffling around objects trying to read the card or see the exhibit, or peering around other people, or just feeling like I'm pressed in a crown is very limited, so this uncrowded session was wonderful. All the guides, guards, and gift-shop employees were clearly practicing, so we advance viewers got lots of friendly greetings.

It took me a good bit of googling to figure out the current King Tut exhibits. Turns out there are two, both organized by National Geographic, and clearly there's some overlap of the supplemental material--for example, it looks like the module on CAT scans of the mummy is in both shows. (The other show, currently in Dallas, is called "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs".) The artifacts, of course, are distinct, but it gets pretty close--the 12-inch-high coffinette that held Tut's stomach is in Atlanta, and the nearly identical one that held his liver is in Dallas. Ah, here we go: "...the Dallas exhibition explores the 18th Dynasty, when Tutankhamun and his ancestors reigned, while the Atlanta exhibition’s focus is broader, covering some of the most important pharaohs throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history". I'm not enough of an Egyptology fan to care--I just find the snippets of history, religion, and culture interesting and the workmanship of the objects magnificent.

It was a fascinating exhibit. The "Egypt 3D" movie was not so, and if I'd had to pay for it would have skipped it. Things that stood out: the coffinette, Tut's golden sandals, the finger and toe protectors (gold again) that were on Tut's mummy, several of the calcite/alabaster objects--I love the look of alabaster, and the pieces were well lighted to show that translucent glow. Oh, and a necklace which I unfortunately can't recall the name of; it was of the wide collar type, but instead of being made of plates or beads, it was a number of strands of tiny figures, all in gold. Each strand had only one or two types of figures on it--all little cats, or impalas, or monkeys, or some non-animal shapes like stars or S's. There were, I don't know, 10 or so strands of these in the piece. Really beautiful....I wish I could remember more of what it was called so I could try to google up a picture of it. Guess I could have bought the $50 hardbound exhibit catalog if I'd really needed to know. <g>

The gift shop was about what you'd expect, from some real kitsch to nicer museum reproductions. I stayed cheap, with a tiny Bastet, a magnet of the leopard mask for the freezer door collection, a Christmas tree ornament, and the Tutlanta T-shirt--an eye of Horus in a gold peach outline. The leopard mask magnet is a tie to the first Tutankhamun exhibit back in the 1970's, which I saw in New Orleans with my mother. She wanted to go, my father couldn't get away, so I joined her on the trip--I think I was in college at the time. I bought a poster of that leopard mask and framed it, and it hung in my apartment for a few years.

The Carlos has a photographic exhibit in conjunction with the King Tut show of the Harry Burton photos that documented the Tutankhamun find. I saw those last weekend (again an advance viewing) and they were a great prep for the Tutankhamun exhibit--there was enough basic background on ancient Egypt to get me oriented, and (of course) a pretty full history of the uncovering of the Tutankhamun tomb. That was covered to some degree in the big exhibit, but the Burton photos gave a much better appreciation for how all the artifacts were crammed into the tomb, probably by priests after an early robbery. Luckily those early grave robbers didn't get much, and then the location of the tomb was lost.

All this immmersion in ancient Egypt had me reaching for Andre Norton's Shadow Hawk as bedtime reading last night. That's placed well before Tutankhamun's time, I find, but still gives me a real feel for the culture. Or maybe it's that my many re-reads of Shadow Hawk back in the day established my fundamental beliefs about what the 'right' feel is.
Tags: museum, tutankhamun

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