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Travel - Tut Ankh Amen at Lacma

Travel - Tut Ankh Amen at Lacma

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Published by Barry Pollack

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Published by: Barry Pollack on Oct 10, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Barry Pollack’s “Going Places”Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the PharaohsAt LACMA“TOO MUCH TOOT, NOT ENOUGH TUT”
Ancient Egypt, with its more than 3000 year history of pharaohs, pyramids, andmummies having all unfolded before the Christian era, has always had a fascinatingallure, at once historical, biblical, and mystical. And so, I, like thousands of others, wasattracted to the latest Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) extravaganza - atraveling exhibit called
Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,
on displayfrom June 16
to November 11
.In its first month the show has been a sell out. Crowds are guided into a special pavilion across the street from the main LACMA buildings. Shoulder-to-shoulder, wewere funneled past faux Egyptian pillars to a small theatre to listen to a brief teaser aboutthe exhibit before moving on to view the collection.King Tut was actually a minor Pharaoh as history goes – having reigned for lessthan ten years, dying in 1325 BC at the age of 19 under unknown circumstances.Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered by English archeologist Howard Carter in November 1922 in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt. Tut’s fame arose because histomb was virtually the only one found intact, with its golden treasures undisturbed bygrave robbers for 3300 years.LACMA’s exhibit displays 50 items from Tut’s tomb andanother 70-80 from other tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Among the Tut artifactsare the royal diadem or golden crown found atop the mummy’s head, his royal scepter and flail, small golden coffins that held the pharaoh’s mummified internal organs, andornate statuettes called
that followed the king into the afterlife to assist his needs.The audio tour is narrated by, of course, Omar Sharif.While I enjoyed the exhibit, my overall impression was that there was
too muchtoot and not enough Tut 
 – lots of hype for an exhibit was that was just mediocre
Isearched the web and reviewed the exhibits on King Tut at the world’s best museum of Egyptology – the Egyptian Museum in Cairo – which loaned the items to the U.S. for thistraveling museum show. They loaned perhaps 20% of their Tut artifacts – but the best of 
the collection including the boy king’s golden death mask and the multiple golden coffinsand sarcophagi remained behind.Tickets for the Los Angeles Tutankhamen exhibit are pricey - a $30 admissionfee. And, the exhibit is not really a LACMA project. They turned over their curatorial powers to AEG, the world’s second largest promoter of rock concerts, who are experts athyping big events for big ticket prices. AEG paid the Egyptian government five milliondollars to “rent and display” the treasures and share revenue with LACMA, which hasmerely provided their good name and the exhibit hall. Clearly both AEG and LACMAhope Tutankhamun will be a golden cash cow. Art museums have generally existed toexpose the general public to great art for free or for modest admission prices. But in Tut’scase, they have subordinated that noble purpose to less noble profit motives.I have to admit however that I have been somewhat spoiled. While theTutankhamun traveling show is certainly interesting and well displayed, it doesn’tcompare to the grand collections of Egyptian art held by other great museums around theworld. However, if you’re curious about pharaoh’s and mummies and gold filled tombs,and don’t plan on long distance travel to view the magnificent Egyptian antiquitycollections in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum inLondon, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, you may want toconsider paying the rock concert fees for LACMA’s Tut.Howard Carter’s discovery became a media sensation in the early 20
century.Probably in an effort to sell more newspapers, stories quickly appeared about “themummy’s curse” and that anyone who disturbed the tomb of the pharaoh would suffer dire consequences. On the day Tut’s tomb was opened, Howard Carter’s pet canary wasswallowed by a cobra. The rearing cobra, whose image is prominently displayed on thecrown of the king, represents the goddess Wadjet, the protector of the Pharaoh ready tostrike and kill his enemies. Lord Carnarvon, Carter’s financial sponsor, who entered thetomb with him, died just months after the discovery. Arthur Conan Doyle, the famousauthor of Sherlock Holmes and a believer in the occult, promptly announced that LordCarnarvon’s death was the result of the “pharaoh’s curse.” And then more hype began,with newspapers announcing the death of one after another of those who had defiled the pharaoh’s tomb. Of course the list was bogus. Of 26 people who entered King Tut’s tomb

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