King Tut: The Boy King Returns in Hands-On Exhibit Exploding with Gold
By: Ellis Nassour
Howard Carter captured the world’s imagination nearly a century ago when the archaeologist made the astounding discovery that still reverberates today: the undisturbed tomb of Egyptian pharaoh, Boy King Tutankhamun. New York has hosted three Tut exhibits, but The Discovery of King Tut at Premier Exhibitions [417 Fifth Avenue, between 37th and 38th Streets] unveils an unparalleled opportunity to explore the legendary tomb and its golden treasures not only close up and personal, just as Carter found them.
In tableau exhibits on two floors, you can feel the rush of excitement Carter must have felt at the moment of discovery. In the initial eye-popping exhibit entrance, you see a portion of the tomb in the Valley of the Kings at the moment a hole was made in the wall and light was shone in.
The 1976 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, which in the early 20s participated in the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb, unleashed "Egyptomania" like never before; so much so that it was said that Tut began his real life after death in New York! That exhibit traveled to world museums.
The Discovery of King Tut exhibit has been seen by millions of visitors worldwide. With amazing recreations, it travels visitors back more than 3,000 years to trace the story of the boy king who reigned for a decade and died suddenly and mysteriously at 19.
The exhibit, which features a gallery on the special relationship between New York and King Tut, brings together a collection that can only be seen separately elsewhere, even in Egypt. The country doesn’t allow the actual fragile, millennia-old original treasures to travel. They’re kept in the Cairo Museum, now totally-renovated thanks to exhibition fees.
There are several "centerpieces" that recreate three chambers from Tutankhamun’s tomb and hundreds of objects found within. Most impressive are the king’s throne, chariot, busts of the king, and three huge golden "nesting" temples that amazingly and innovatively hid the actual giant sarcophagus. Over 1,000 items were reproduced down to the last detail using gold, metal, and alabaster by Egyptian craftsmen
There’s an excellent audio tour, based on Carter’s diaries; and mounted texts that give great insight into Tut’s brief reign, theories of his death, and fascinating reports on the excavations. There’s also a unique gift boutique, where you’ll find the exhibit catalog, a wonderful and colorful keepsake.
Upon exit, don’t miss the gallery of newly-colorized photos by Harry Burton, the Egyptologist and archaeological photographer, from the collection of the 1,400 he took documenting the excavation of Tutankhamun‘s tomb on behalf of the Met. These photos assisted craftsmen in the creation of the exhibit.
The Discovery of King Tut runs through May 1. Tickets are $29 for adults and $20 for children. For group discounts and information on "Tut Talks" lectures, visit www.TutNYC.com.
The Premier venue also features Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition., a fan-based 40th anniversary salute to NBC’s still popular late-night show that has 40 Emmy Awards and is the most nominated show in Emmy history. There’re photos, video, scripts [including the very first], and interactive props and set pieces from 30 Rock’s Studio 8H. These include the giant news desk for photo opts.
Individual Saturday Night Live tickets are $29, and available at www.SNLtheexhibition.com. A combination package with The Discovery of King Tut is available.
Zahi Hawass, the former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities and the world’s leading Egyptologist, will be in New York on January 14 to discuss the exhibit and his book The Magic and the Mystery of Tutankhamen: Recent Discoveries at the Society of Ethical Culture (2 West 64th Street at Central Park West) at 7 P.M. A signing will follow. Mr. Hawass was Director of Excavations at Giza, Saqqara, Bahariya Oasis, and the Valley of the Kings. This should be a fascinating discussion with the recent headlines of a possible tomb of Queen Nefertiti adjacent to that of Tut’s tomb. Tickets are $29 plus tax and available at www.tutnyc.com/zahi-hawass-nyc-jan14.