Mary Irvine’s blog: Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh

king tut exhibition

The Mask 

I have been to several exhibitions of the treasures of the pharaohs, including the golden mask – twice! The first time was its visit to the British Museum in 1972. I took the milk train down from Hull and arrived at the museum at around 2.45 a.m. I was second in the queue with a French family in pole position. From 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. important people were allowed in. The only two I recognised were Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwill. At 10 a.m. the plebs were allowed entry. The mask was most impressive, as were all the other artefacts. The second time I saw these artefacts, including the Mask, was in 1985 in the old Cairo Museum. The mask was still impressive.

Saatchi Gallery Exhibition

king tuts

This latest exhibition, at the Saatchi Gallery, did not include the mask as it is fragile and far too valuable to travel any more. I had never been to the Saatchi Gallery or even Sloane square so found the walk from the tube station to the gallery quite fascinating, especially the price of clothes! The gallery was set in the Duke of York’s Square, quite a charming square. It was named, I believe, after the Grand Old Duke of nursery rhyme fame. I’m sure someone will correct me if that is not the case.

  At the entry to the gallery there was strict security in place. My friend’s bag was searched whilst I was let through with no search as I wasn’t carrying a bag. My coat had several, very deep pockets. Incredulous!

The Saatchi gallery did the artefacts proud. There were five galleries allocated to them and they were well-spaced out so no crowds built up. Most of them were positioned so they could be viewed from all sides, whilst the information on each one was repeated on two sides, thus enabling people to get an all-round view.

king tuts

The objects were all spectacular and each added a piece of the Pharaoh’s life from the chair and footstools, made especially for him as a child when he became Pharaoh, to one of the two life-size statues that guarded his tomb. There was a lot of gold and precious stones, as befits a Pharaoh. But there were also other aspects of life on display as well. There were small statues, Ushabti, representing the servants and workers the pharaoh would need in the afterlife. And boomerangs! These Egyptian throwing sticks were used both in battle and in hunting although the bow and arrow was their first weapon of choice.

king tuts mary

It was an enjoyable and relaxing tour and the gallery is to be commended on the display and general organisation. Must mention the large number of guides available to help with advice and directions. Well informed and friendly. Overall an excellent visit. Well worth the entrance fee.

statue king tuts

P.S. Halfway through we called at the cafe for a coffee and a spinach pie. Most enjoyable, especially as the prices were not over-inflated. A real bonus!


Mary Irvine's Blog: ‘Troy’ Exhibition at the British Museum
Mary Irvine: Closer than we thought

This section: Mary Irvine: Writer and Philhellene

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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