He was not, as Steve Martin sang, born in Arizona, but this week his “entourage” arrived in St. Paul. The King Tut exhibit opened last week at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and what an exhibit it is.
This is a prestigious honor for the Science Museum—the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities hand-selected six U.S. sites to host the exhibit, and the St. Paul museum is the only science museum to be offered the opportunity. It’s also the Science Museum’s largest-ever touring exhibit, at 16,000 square feet and with a total artifact weight of 72,000 pounds.
Tutankhamun does not make an appearance himself; his mummy is (and will always be) on display in Egypt. There’s an incredibly detailed replica (produced by 3-D printers), but that’s almost beside the point. More than 100 artifacts from the boy king’s tomb are displayed, from tiny, intricate pieces of jewelry, to full coffins and statuary, including this impressive statue of Ahkenaten, King Tut’s father:
Interestingly, it’s only been in recent years that Akhenaten was proven, via DNA evidence, to be Tut’s father. The Science Museum as usual does an exemplary job providing historical details, cultural insights and explanations for every aspect of the exhibit, and the DNA story is provided on film.
The riches are jaw-dropping, from Tut’s golden sandals…
…to the golden covers that protected his fingers and toes.
Advances in technology have not only allowed researchers to confirm Tut’s parentage, but also point to a leg infection as the likely cause of death. The accompanying Omnitheater film, Mummies, delves into what kind of research is being done with these ancient bodies, and why it’s valid and worthwhile today.
Fitting for an exhibit of this stature, the Science Museum has numerous special events and programs related to the Tut artifacts. Check out The Curse of the Mummy? (if you dare) or family classes including Archaeology for Beginners. Kids with birthdays during the run (through 9/5/11) can book special King Tut Science birthday parties. Adults looking for more education opportunities should check out the King Tut lecture series, running Thursday nights from March through August. Topics will cover aspects of the historical, archaeological, and cultural importance of King Tut.
If you’re planning on visiting on the weekend, be sure to reserve ahead of time. The exhibit has timed admission tickets to keep crowds from being overwhelming, and many popular shifts are likely to sell out. Check out the museum’s website (link above) for details.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO-TV newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.