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Author Topic: AKHENATEN/TUTANKHAMUN  (Read 67033 times)
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« Reply #1125 on: July 18, 2009, 06:02:50 pm »

                                                         K I N G S   O F   T H E   N I L E

                             Tut stars in striking exhibit featuring more than 100 Egyptian antiquities

Sunday,  July 5, 2009 3:39 AM
By Steve Stephens

-- America can't get enough King Tut.

And it's no wonder. Since 1922, when a team led by British explorer Howard Carter discovered the unspoiled, treasure-packed tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen, the "Boy King" has been synonymous with the mysteries
and wonders of ancient Egypt.

And now through Oct. 25, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is playing host to the marvelous exhibit "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs."

As the title suggests, the new exhibit, with its more than 100 artifacts, encompasses far more than just Tut.

There is no overlap between the objects in the new exhibit and "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," a traveling exhibit that came to Chicago in 2006 and is now in San Francisco.

That exhibit focuses primarily on Tut and his family. It is almost intimate in its choice of objects. Some of Tut's personal items -- games, chairs, knives -- give visitors a sense of a living and breathing boy king.

(He died at age 18 or 19.)

The new exhibit, which opened in Atlanta, has a much broader sweep, with impressive objects -- some of
them quite monumental in size -- from throughout the millennia-long pharaonic period of Egyptian history.

Tut "is coming, not with his family, as he did three years ago, but with all of ancient Egypt and the other pharaohs," Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said at the exhibit's
opening June 26.

Hawass, who has overseen the project to perform a CAT scan on Tut's mummy, promised that major findings concerning the boy king's death and parentage will be released this summer, news that can only stoke Tut's popularity.

Entering the first gallery, visitors will be struck by the display of busts and statues of many pharaohs representing all of the pharaonic ages -- Old, Middle, Late and New kingdoms. The gallery hints of the breadth of Egyptian history, but I was impressed by the artistry displayed by the ancient Egyptian craftsmen who carved the pieces.

Among the pharaohs here is Khafre, the king whose face appears on the Sphinx (frankly, I don't see the resemblance). He is represented by an exquisite 3-foot calcite statue.

Displayed alone and, of course, dramatically lighted is a huge, breathtaking statue of Amenhotep IV, stylized
with elongated, almost impressionistic features.

But not all of the pharaonic pieces are monumental in scale.

The playful Sketch of a Princess Eating a Duck is as whimsical as it sounds, a book-sized stone lightly marked
and engraved as a trial piece to show just that.

And a small, lovingly carved stone sarcophagus that once held a cat belonging to Thutmose, the son of
Amenhotep III, brings the whole exhibit down to a personal level, at least briefly.

Still, despite the looming presence of the other pharaohs, Tut is the star of the show.

Entering the galleries dedicated to him, visitors must pass through a gauzy portico designed to re-create Carter's dig site. The darkened entrance forces a visitor's eyes to grow accustomed to the dim light, just as Carter experienced as he entered the tomb for the first time.

I was struck by a display of life-size black-and-white photos of Tut's burial coffin, positioned behind glass cases with objects from the burial so as to show where the objects -- a pectoral with three scarabs, amulets, toe and finger protectors and the like -- were originally located.

The personal is not neglected in the collection of Tut objects. Look especially for another of the boy king's games: a tiny box, like a cribbage board, of delicate ivory.

And objects of raw artistic beauty found in the tomb abound, such as an elegantly carved unguent vessel, found with traces of perfumed ointment still inside.

In the last of the 12 galleries, "Pharaoh's Fate," is a 17-foot colossal statue of Tut, still displaying a blush of the original paint around the eyes, mouth and headdress -- a fitting final act to the monumental show.

As with the Chicago exhibit, the current Tut exhibit features dramatic but appropriate lighting and music and
large, theatrical murals, videos and interpretive signage. An introductory film, narrated by Harrison Ford,
welcomes visitors who are about to pass into the exhibit. Ford also narrates the available audio tour.

Both shows were designed by Mark Lach, senior vice president of Arts and Exhibits.

"We want the exhibit to be dramatic, even theatrical, but not detract from the objects themselves,
which are the stars," Lach said.

Once again, Lach has succeeded.

"We want the exhibit to be dramatic, even theatrical, but not detract from the objects themselves."

Mark Lach
exhibition designer
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