The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Exhibit doubles in size since its first showing
By THERESE CHAPMAN, Staff Reporter
Published: October 17, 2012
Last May, King Tutankamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs made its debut at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. Currently on display until Jan. 6, 2013, the exhibition features about 50 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb and over 100 antique pieces from various members of Egypt’s nobility – and then it’s back to Cairo, where these precious pieces will remain in Egypt forever.
According to the Science Center’s Public Relations/Marketing Specialist Katelyn Del Buco, Seattle’s “intellectual curiosity” in conjunction to the necessary size and features (lighting, climate control, electrical equipment) needed to house such a large collection, is what landed Seattle the honor of hosting the event’s grand finale after ending its U.S. tour, which began in 2001.
In comparison to its last appearance, where there were about 100 pieces, not only has the exhibit doubled in size since its first showing in 1978, but includes a few new displays: King Tut’s bed and golden coffinette painted with an assortment of colors (which at one time held his organs) and a funerary mask found on the mummified King Psusennes I (the first time this has ever left Egypt). However, Del Buco did say that King Tut’s death mask has not made it into the exhibit this round due to damages it sustained during the last tour.
To be sure, King Tut’s mummy and sarcophagus are not there—they have permanently remained in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
Here’s a bit of what you can expect to find:
With its own labeled “chambers,” dark atmosphere and an eerie soundtrack that resembles something from Tomb Raider, what could’ve been an ordinary showcase feels like an adventurous trip through a tomb.
Muted display lights create a god-like glow around the polished stone statues, glistening gold jewelry and colorfully painted coffinettes.
Minute detailing and hieroglyphics on most of the artifacts are surprisingly clear and defined—even after thousands of years.
Glittering gold necklaces and earrings show off shots of turquoise and rusty crimson, and a 10 foot quartzite statue of King Tut hovers over the sprawling display cases.
Floor-to-ceiling templates provide written historical tid-bits about ancient Egypt and some of its leaders, and a few flat-screen TVs quietly play short clips about nearby pieces,
Photographs from Howard Carter’s 1922 archeological dig have a place on the exhibit’s walls too. And near the end, golden finger and toe coverings and sandals found on King Tut’s mummy attracts clusters of people who then find themselves meandering into the corresponding gift shop where highly priced catalogues and mementos commemorate the visitor’s experience.
As Del Buco added, what makes King Tut such a fascinating subject surrounds the mystery of his death, in addition to the fact that his tomb is about the only one discovered completely intact. Most of the other surrounding tombs in the Valley of the Kings have been stripped by grave robbers.
Since the exhibit opened on May 24, over 450,000 tickets have been sold. Adult ticket prices range from $24.50-$32.50 (student ticket prices range from $24.50-$29.50).
Audio guides are available for an extra $5, and an extra $4 pays for a ticket to one of the two correlating IMAX videos (Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs goes over the mummification process, and Mysteries of Ancient Egypt gives an overview of the Egyptian landscape and the Valley of the Kings). Del Buco suggested the educational videos as an additional learning opportunity to pick up on historical content the exhibit does not include.
A lecture series has been arranged as well, occuring until Nov. 27.
So unless you’re planning a trip to Egypt, the Pacific Science Center has offered locals a rare, historical opportunity to connect with an ancient part of history before it’s whisked away for good.