No pictures this time. Hey, I barely have any description as there was a prohibition on pictures and it was too dark to sneak one anyway. Plus, I didn’t have anything to write notes with.
I was wandering through Times Square and was offered a handout by a young lady. I declined it (politely – those people have a tough job and get either ignored or rejected most of the time), but then about two steps later I reversed and went back and got the pamphlet.
The pamplet indicated that the King Tut exhibit is in its last days. It’ll be a long, long time before it’s back. And it had a $5 off coupon on it. How could I resist?
I’ve heard bits and pieces about the exhibit, but no one has mentioned going to it. I’ve been thinking I ought to go and wondered why it seemed pretty low profile. I remember the last exhibit of it, back in the 70s(?), and it made all the magazines and all. I was nowhere near NYC or other cities on its tour at the time so never saw it.
The exhibit is on 44th Street between 7th Ave and 8th Ave. It’s hard to miss, but I guess I have missed it recently.
I went in and, being a cheap guy, I immediately asked how much it was (even before getting to the ticket counter – there was a long line). It turns out that the admission is $29.50 plus tax, plus a few doo-dads they throw at you. The first was a 3-D movie. No thanks. The second was an audio tour featuring the voice of Omar Sharif. Yeah, not a problem. The charge for that, $7. After my coupon, it was about $34 total.
When you go in, they have a 90 second intro film. Not bad, but I had to wait about four minutes for it to open up. It seems that they use the film to space out the traffic. Fine by me. After the film, a second set of doors is opened and you enter the exhibit rooms. There are about 4 or 6 of them (I wasn’t counting at the time).
The exhibit starts off very slowly and oddly. There are only about 130 items shown, and I think less than half of them come from the tomb. The others come from other tombs and excavations. Lots of stuff had only minor links to Tut; they were primarily about his father and some relatives.
You’re guided from room to room and Omar’s voice gives much better info on the exhibits than the written materials on the exhibits. However, there are only about 22 or so items he talks about. The rest of the exhibits seemed too small to merit any sort of lengthy discussion.
In about the second room, there’s a sarcophogas. For a moment, I thought it was the one that I’ve seen pictures of a million times…but it wasn’t it. Instead, it was of a relative and was just gold-gilded. Still, pretty cool, but nothing that was like what I was hoping to see. (I really should have done the research and known what I was going to be looking at.)
As I went from one room to the next, I got a couple of interesting feelings about the exhibit. First, the old scam that P.T. Barnum did of “This way to the Egress” kept coming to mind. At the hallway to the next room was always a sign saying “King Tut” and an arrow. ‘Come further in and see the real thing’ it seemed to say. The other feeling was much more positive as the quality of the exhibits kept going up. In about the second to the last room, I saw three items that basically made the visit worthwhile just by themselves. First was a gold box that was beautifully done. Really nicely detailed. Second, a ‘pectoral’ pendant for the chest of Tut. Wow. It had some nice shiny stones in it that really made it fantastic. I guess I like shiny stones more than gold at times.
Finally, there was the small sarcophagas that held Tut’s liver, about a foot long or so. The liver wasn’t in there, though. But the casket was just fantastic. There were some other pieces I also liked (the gold dagger that was in his linen cloths), but these three items were the best in the whole exhibit as far as I was concerned.
I also enjoyed the film of Howard Carter from the original opening of the tomb. It was running on a continuous loop of about 3 or 4 minutes duration.
The final room held what I guess is supposed to be the gemstone of the exhibit: a mummified body without the wrapping. The room was jammed with people and I wondered who it was. There was a film loop on Tut’s unwrapping and DNA testing. But an early sign at the beginning of the exhibit said that Tut’s body was still in Egypt. Who was it? Turns out, it was a replica of Tut.
I guess that bummed me out a little. I really don’t like the exhbitions of bodies (I refuse to go the The Body exhibit that has dozens of actual human bodies turned into plastic freak-like exhibits doing things that the person probably never did in their life like holding an American football in a Heisman-like pose), but it seems bizarre to show a replica at the same time that you are showing some good film of the actual body.
I sort of surprised myself though. I kept thinking about the P.T. Barnum line and when I saw the replica, it just seemed a relief that I could now see the Egress. I went through to the next room, turned in my audio device, and then had my senses assaulted by the required gift shop crud. I didn’t even slow down for it.
Was it worth it? Barely. At least for me. I later was talking with a neighbor and she said that her niece had come to NYC to see the exhibit and had been thrilled at the content. I’ll only say that you might want to check it out a little more before going to it. But, then again, the exhibit is almost over and who knows when it will come back again…