Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Profit, not learning, drives 'Tutankhamun'

SFGate (Kenneth Baker)

With photos.

Among people with a professional interest in the arts, "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," which opens today at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, will merely deepen the tarnish on the reputation of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Although FAMSF curator Renee Dreyfus has swapped out four objects presented at other venues for four of her own choosing, the show in bulk comes here prepackaged by National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International, a subsidiary of corporate impresario AEG Worldwide, which also owns the San Francisco Examiner.

Critics have hammered every art museum that has hosted "Tutankhamun." (A parallel exhibition, "Tutankhamun, the Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" - same size, same sources, same organizers - opens today at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.) But here, as elsewhere - except Dallas, where attendance fell about 40 percent short of projections - a vast audience probably will eat it up, even at $27.50 a head for general admission.


Therein lies a mystery to eclipse the unanswered questions represented by many of the objects on view.

See the above page for full details.


Anonymous said...

The museum is a private institution. They have a right to charge whatever they want. If people find their price too steep, they need not attend. If attendance is low, the museum will take a loss. Then, maybe, the museum will adjust its prices accordingly. If attendance is high, then the museum is not overcharging afterall. Capitalism has a way of working itself out.


Anonymous said...

What a pompous ass. Many of us can only get to see ancient Egyptian artifacts through these shows. Besides, what a nice way to keep the Art Museums afloat during these difficult times.


Scrabcake said...

Seconded. He trivializes the artefacts in favour of more contemporary pieces. The deYoung museum is not great. Their oceanic stuff is ok, and they have some decent Teotehuacano objects. Last time I checked they didn't have anything Egyptian on display,though I've read that they've got some stuff in storage. I don't care much for the chintzy packaging, but Tut's artefacts are sure to stun anyone with even a mild interest which this reviewer apparently doesn't have. He and some of the commenters sell them short as shiny crowd-pleasing bling. >:o

Timothy Reid said...

Hi Andie

I do not consider $27.50 per person all that expensive however if one does not enjoy than perhaps it was just a waste of money. Lets face it this show has been running in many different forms since the 1960's and not everyone will like it especially if your fighting a crowd. As a curator one can never really understand how a crowd will act until the objects are in place and the crowd is present.

A few years ago I attended the Eternal Egypt show at the Royal Victoria museum and while the show was wonderful as is the museum, in the funerary gallery a magnificent Fayum portrait of a Greco-Roman lady was placed in a corner of the gallery along with a small coffin close by on the adjoining wall. Everyone wanted to get close to the beautiful portrait but because of its position one had to squeeze oneself in the corner behind the coffin. This created an eddy of people in that corner of the gallery which like it or not I had to pry my way into but when I got in front of I was well rewarded by the beauty of the portrait.

Sounds to me like the author did not make the best of their experience!


Joan said...

I don't think the author of that article has much passion for things Egyptian. I saw the show when it was at LACMA in 2005. Yes, they did figure out just how many of us they could cram in there. But considering how many of us will never get to Egypt to see the wondrous things there, these shows are the next best bet.