When thinking about King Tut, the image to the left often comes to mind. It is the death mask of 18th Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. It is the quintessential artifact of ancient Egypt. It is the piece that captured the imagination of westerners when the exhibit first toured the US more than thirty years ago. And you will not see it nor Tut’s sarcophagi in the exhibit currently touring the U.S. and on display at the Dallas Museum of Art.
An enthusiast of ancient history in general and ancient Egypt specifically, I was awfully excited about seeing this exhibit. It featured numerous artifacts from Tut’s contemporaries and family members – all of which are quite simply stunning. For instance, the funerary mask of Tut’s Gramma, Tjuya, was breath-taking and the head from the statue of Akhenaten was powerfully presented. Problem is as cool as Tjuya and Akhenaten’s stuff was that ain’t who you went to see. Comprising 130 items, the exhibit contains only 50 artifacts from Tut’s tomb. Rather like going to see a concert where Van Halen opens the show and Golden Earring turns out to be the main act.
Seriously, it was just like that.
Tut was a colossal let-down. The Boy King was a royal disappointment.
He came to town with none of his cool stuff. He left his death mask at home. Same with his sarcophagus. These two things seem fundamental to me for an exhibit of ANY pharaoh, not just Tut.
I’ve read where the Dallas Museum of Art expected to sell more than a million tickets for the tour. By recent accounts in the Dallas Morning News, ticket sales are running around 62% of the expectation. Bonnie Pittman, Director of DMA, blames the economy. “Like every institution, we have been impacted by the economic climate.”
If by “economic climate” she means “shitty exhibit,” then absolutely the DMA is suffering a steaming, heaping mound of “economic climate.”
Look out San Francisco, this turd of an exhibit is headed your way after Dallas flushes it in May.