Discovery Times Square Exposition
When Susan and I booked our Bermuda cruise for Labor Day weekend departure from New York, we knew we'd drive up the day before. What would we do in the city on Saturday evening? Seeing a Broadway musical would be our usual choice. But, Susan noted that the traveling exhibit Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs would be at the Discovery Times Square Exposition exhibition center. We'd enjoyed the Egyptian exhbits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in November and the King Tut exhibit seemed like a good follow-up.
Both Susan and I remembered the famous King Tut traveling exhbit of 1976-1979 (The Treasures of Tutankamun).
She had seen it in Washington, DC, and I in Los Angeles (long before we met). It spawned a huge nationwide Tut-mania, including Steve Martin's famous King Tut skit on Saturday Night Live. It was time again for Tut.
Leaving Springfield at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, we made our way up I-95 through Maryland. Lunch was at our usual stopping place at the Cracker Barrel in Elkton, Maryland. From there, it was a dash across Delaware, over the Delaware Bridge, and then on the New Jersey Turnpike to Secaucus. We arrived in Secaucus by 3:00 p.m. and checked in to the Embassy Suites hotel, a good 5 1/2-hour trip with lunch.
Our timed Tut tickets were for 6:30 p.m. We caught the 5:10 New Jersey Transit bus for the Port Authority and were standing in Times Square by 6:00.
King Tut on Broadway
(The bus driver took a new route, via Union City, NJ, to the Lincoln Tunnel.) The Discovery Times Square Exposition is located on 44th Street across from Shubert Alley. We were there early, but were able to go right in. Photography is not awllowed in the exhibit itself, but I was able to get a few photos of the outside, including the welcoming 25-foot statue of Anubis, protector of the dead, and introductory posters.
The exhibit is the first time since 1988 that Egypt has permitted Tutankhamun related artifacts to leave the country. (Items were damaged during an exhibition in Germany.) This collection has more pieces than the 1970s show, but the items are smaller. (The iconic gold mask exhbited then was not part of this show.) A theme of the current exhibit is the modern foresnic and DNA studies that have been performed on King Tut's remains.
King Tut exhibit poster: Carving of Tut's torso
The studies have established his parentage and relation to rulers of the New Kingdom. He was the son of Amenhotep IV (later known as Akhenaten) and his great-great-grandfather was Tuthmosis I. Tutankhamun (ca. 1341 BC-1323 BC) came to the throne at age 9. His father had instituted the worship of a single deity, Aten, in place of the many traditional Egyptigan deities headed by Amon, leading to some turmoil in the world of the New Kingdom. Young Tutankhamun, advised by three viziers, reinstated the traditional religion and priesthood. Tutankhamun died at age 19 and was forgotten until his intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.
The exhibt opens with a view of Egypt of the Tuthmosid era. Objects from the tombs of Tut's ancestors and relatives are on display, showing the power and influence Egypt had attained in that period.
King Tut exhibit poster: Golden coffin lid
The Tutankhamun displays comprise about a third of the exhibit. They are small objects, but most interesting. Headresses, Canopic Jars, a Headrest for sleeping, Breastplate, Crowns, and carved stone, gold, and wooden figures are among them. Most interesting is a wooden likeness of Tut. (It can be compared with the modern forensic reconstruction of his facial features. In both cases, ones comes face-to-face with the "boy king", though perhaps he actually saw the carving.) Many of the objects are shabtis
, small human figures that were to come to life and serve the Pharaoh in the afterlife. The largest artifact is a full-size chariot. The chariot had been used, evidenced by wheel wear and repairs, it was not just a tomb ornament. (Tut suffered a broken leg shortly before his death, perhaps he fell from this chariot.
Marquee for Memphis at the Shubert Theatre
) In addition to the royal carvings I liked the display of several decorative objects. A wooden cabinet with gold trim seemed to exhibit Art Deco touches. (It would not have been out of palce as a mid-20th century side table.) Two chairs and their decorations were interesting to see. They had been presented as gifts. Who had sat in them? The most interesting piece of jewelry was a gold scarab with a carved green glass inlay. This was no ordinary glass, it has been formed when a meteorite exploded in the desert sand.
At the conclusion of the exhibt was a presentation on the contemporary studies of the mummies of Tutankhamun and his relatives. He did not suffer a blow to the head as had once been conjectured. He did have an infected broken leg and had malaria and scoliosis. He may have died of infection.
There was also a 3-D film on the mummification process, though it focused on Rameses II (1279 BC-1213 BC), almost a century after Tutankhamun.
After the exhibit, Susan and I enjoyed dinner at Junior's Restaurant across Shubert Alley. We spent some time looking at the theatre marquees and posters before returning to the Port Authority and our hotel in Secaucus.