The OC Guide to LA: Tutankhamun

Since the only time most Orange Countyians head up to LA is for big events, I figured it was fair game to talk about a big event in LA: Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. After looking forward to it for months, I finally had the time to go to LACMA to see it. And after all that anticipation I was sorely disappointed.

I know some people believe that Disneyland has trained anybody who lives in the OC to handle lines and crowds well, but I’ve never seen crowds at Disneyland like the ones I had to deal with in the LA. I mean, it was wall to wall people. People putting their heads right in my face as I tried to look at artifacts or read the placards. People pushing and elbowing to get a better view, because they feel they are entitled to a better view than everybody else.

While there are clearly many people who want to go see the Tutankhamen exhibit, it doesn’t help that the space is so small. The space is small partly because the exhibit itself is so small, and therefore doesn’t take up much space. But also because the exhibit is so small LACMA surely wanted the exhibit filled the space so it would feel like a larger exhibit. You see, there were only about a hundred and thirty items on display, and many were not about King Tut, nor were they golden.

The exhibit had artifacts from the eighteenth dynasty, a two-hundred and fifty year period towards the end of Ancient Egyptian society. This exhibit would be similar to showing the history of the United States from founding till today in only 130 items, it’s about the same length of time. Not only that, the eighteenth dynasty was one of the more interesting and turbulent periods in Egyptian history. The most interesting art and craftsmanship came out of the eighteenth dynasty, primarily because it was different from what had been created during the prior two thousand years. But there were only two items on exhibit that showed this different artistic style.

From the collection of items from King Tut’s tomb there were a few things that were really neat, like the dagger from inside his sarcophagus and a crook and flail. However, the collection of things from King Tut’s tomb was very limited. There are many things I would have liked to see, that weren’t there, such as his sarcophagus itself. There are also other things from the eighteenth dynasty I would have liked to see, such as this one particular bust of Nefertiti that is remarkably well preserved (most of the statues of her were destroyed during the reign of Tutankhamun) but these other things weren’t on display.

When I got to the end of the exhibit I was very disappointed. For the price of admission the exhibit was too crowded and not big enough. I would have liked to buy the catalogue for the exhibit, I didn’t feel like dropping another $50 on an exhibit I was already disappointed in. I figure I have pictures of most of the items on exhibit in other Egyptian history books already on my shelves. My recommendation would be to skip Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs and instead head over to Bowers Museum to see Mummies: Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. They actually have mummies and coffins on display, their exhibit has more items, and it is cheaper. Who says you have to go up to LA for arts and culture?

1 Comment so far

  1. Jill (unregistered) on September 15th, 2005 @ 7:02 am

    Yeah, it really was a piss-poor exhibit. They way over-sold the tickets and did nothing to ease the crowding in the museum. At each display, I felt like it was Christmas and everyone was jostling for the last Tickle-Me Elmo… Not worth it!



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