There have been a couple of stories in the local media about how the exorbitant prices of the King Tut and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibition is keeping people from going to see the wonders of ancient Egypt.
In an effort to get more people to come to see the boy king’s nick knacks they have lowered their prices on a few show times-from $32.50 to $22.50-add $10 to $20 dollars for a parking space-if you can find one. So it cost about $70 for two adults to go and see the King Tut Exhibition on the sale day. I didn’t pay the $7 for the audio tour, though a lot of people did. Oh, by the way, the rest of the Museum was closed when we went so that added bonus of seeing the Dallas Museum for free didn’t quite pan out.
It was not a mob-a few minutes wait to buy the over priced tickets and then a lot of standing around while they did the usual Museum Shuffle of moving people from one spot to another while they limited access to the exhibition.
Now I have never liked this way of doing things. The entrance to the event is timed-so that our group went in at 12:30-but there is no one at the other end counting the people leaving and saying-ok, the room is clear let the next group in. The room is never clear and there was a cluster of people around every display case. It didn’t seem all that crowded-until you got into the cramped and confined and often near pitch black display rooms.
This is the way it is done-the museums have learned how to handle crowds from Disney. But a Disney ride takes a few seconds and the people are off to something else-a museum exhibit takes a bit longer and there must be a better way to do it. Especially when there is not that large a crowd. How about a ten or fifteen minute film to start the tour not to end it? Something that would let the people ahead move farther into the exhibit so it wouldm’t be like a mosh pit at a rock concert?
Ok, so what about the King Tut Exhibit itself? It was very interesting, but it also seemed to be a fairly small sampling of fairly small items. There were 130 artifacts of one sort or another, most of them smaller items. There was a golden sarcophagus and a stone head that were pretty impressive. Overall it was the detail of the work that was the most amazing. Necklaces and bracelets with hundreds of tiny pieces, complex inlays of all kinds of scenes from the life of the Pharaohs, and hammered gold with finely detailed images preserved for the afterlife.
One of the well represented items were small statues whose jobs were to do the manual labor that King Tut and company would be expected to preform in the afterlife. One of them was there to do agricultural work for the dead king. Is there a lot of call for farming in the afterlife? Most of the items were not specifically King Tut items, but were still pretty amazing. All the gold and calcite and glass and wood looked like it was 3000 years old, though many of the items seemed to show very little signs of age. Or maybe I am just used to seeing age in furniture and I didn’t notice the wear and tear of the centuries.
As a photographer I found myself looking at the many wonderful and amazing objects and thinking about the proper angles to get the best shots-but there is no photography allowed. Not that you could really get a good shot in the jam packed rooms with people constantly milling around from one case to another. Bans of photography are common and I knew ahead of time I couldn’t take photos.
The other big news is that the famous Mask of Tutankhamen seen in all the advertising material and on the website for the exhibition is not on display. Well, it looks like the famous mask, but it is really a close up of a small golden statue and not the Mask. The Mask was deemed too fragile for another trip to the U.S. Many of the most interesting items from the 1977 Tut Tour were not on display. There are no Mummys here either, though there are plenty in the Field Museum and The British Museum. Clearly it was not that important that the items be from King Tut so borrowing a Mummy might have added a nice touch to the exhibit.
The King Tut and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs could have been better, but it was still pretty good. I am not surprised that they are not setting any records-it cost too much, though certainly less than the cost of a trip to Egypt. Maybe it wouldn’t have been quite as disappointing if they didn’t have giant photographs of all the items not on display on so many walls. This was kind of the King Tut Mini Me Tour-featuring models and doll sized items.
On the way out we were both given a coupon for a free Starbucks coffee-so it was not all bad.