Saturday, April 24, 2010

Exhibition: Tutankhamun in New York

abc local (Sandra Bookman)

With video of exhibitin preview.

For the first time in more than three decades, King Tut is back in New York. And this time around, we know a lot more about the ancient boy king.

It's the last stop of an eight-city tour, and this new Tut exhibit has already been seen by 7 million visitors.

But curators say the New York stop, at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, features more new artifacts in a larger space, and they're promising you've never seen the boy king like this.

King Tut, whose golden treasures last captivated New York and the world 31 years ago, has returned.

And organizers of the exhibition "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" are promising a show that's even bigger and better the second time around.

"This one has 130 artifacts, 50 of which are from Tutankhamun," curator Dr. David Silverman said. "In actuality, they are two and a half times the size of last time."

New York Times (Edward Rothstein)

There has always been something a little disorienting, almost out of proportion, about King Tut. Is there any Egyptian pharaoh now more widely known, any more celebrated? The extraordinary objects found in his tomb have been viewed by millions, and the more objects from that horde are seen, the larger Tut looms. Yet the more we know, the less imposing he becomes, and the more puzzling the contrast seems.

Visit “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” which opens on Friday at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, and if you have ever been astonished by the objects found in the king’s tomb — whether from seeing Tut’s first museum tour in the 1970s, or this more wide-ranging show in one of its six preceding locations — you will be amazed again. (New York is its last stop before the artifacts return to Egypt in January.)

This show expands the historical horizon of the ground-breaking blockbuster that was Tut I by linking the king to his ancestors (and, incidentally, enshrining the now dominant spelling of his name). It also breaks with the museological origins of that first tour, which took shape under the oversight of Thomas Hoving, then director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Heritage Key
(Helen Atkinson)

For me, the press preview of the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition, which opened in New York today, was a momentous event because I've never met Dr. Zahi Hawass before, and I got to look him in the eye and shake his hand and even ask him a question. I'll come to all that in a minute.

The exhibition is impressive. I can't deny that. There was a moment when I actually stopped dead in my tracks, mouth open (soon to be hustled out of the way by a pushy New York journo). This happened when I came upon a huge bust of Akhenaten, King Tut's autocratic probable Dad, high, high atop a great slab of honeyed stone, lit with a powerful spotlight, his face astonishingly realistic, the lips curved, cruel, sensual. I felt like Shelley's "traveler from an antique land" finding the ruined statue of King Ozymandias in the desert.

The exhibition's website is at

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