King Tut

King Tut March 22, 2009

On Friday, Cathy and I went to see the King Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. Here’s the short review: if you can afford the time and money, it’s a chance to see some fascinating artifacts that are 3500 years old. But if you saw “The Quest for Immortality” in 2003 or Hatshepsut in 2006-7 (both at the Kimball in Fort Worth), you may be disappointed with Tut.

Details are here on the DMA website. If you’re going, pay the Ticketfuhrer extortion charges and get tickets before you go. We were going to go on Thursday, but by Wednesday afternoon, Thursday was sold out until 4:30. We got tickets for 1:30 on Friday, showed up at 1:00 and they were sold out till 5:30.

They start lining up each group about a half hour before the stated time. We got in line about 1:05 and the line started moving about 1:25. We got in about 1:35, and we were near the front of the line. It took about 90 minutes to go through the whole exhibit. It was crowded the whole way through, though not claustrophobically so.

Don’t try to drive, at least not on a weekday – parking is impossible. The DMA lot was full when we got there, as were the commercial lots nearby. It may be OK on nights and weekends – I’ve been to other events in the Arts District and found parking, but they weren’t King Tut. Instead, take the DART train to the St. Paul station – it’s about a 7 minute walk from there to the DMA.

I can’t help comparing King Tut to the two exhibits at the Kimball. Both of those were larger, and some of the less delicate pieces weren’t under glass. I think everything at Tut was under glass. Much of the artifacts were small – beautiful, intricate, and even inspiring, but small.

Tutankhamun’s mummy isn’t part of the exhibit – it has never left the Valley of the Kings (which is where it belongs). And the Golden Funerary Mask (which was the highlight of the first Tut tour in the 1970s) has been determined to be too fragile to travel any more – the Egyptian government won’t let it out of the country.

I tried to get a spiritual reading or feeling from the items in the exhibit (something I did easily at the other two exhibits), and with the partial exception of one ankh, I couldn’t. I don’t know if it was the glass barrier, or the huge crowds that for the most part had no idea what they were looking at (it was all I could do to not respond to some of the comments and questions I heard from other visitors, and I’m far from an expert in Egyptology), or what, but these were just old, pretty things. Fascinating things, to be sure, but still, just things.

Still, King Tut is the rock star of ancient Egypt, and some times you go see rock stars just because they’re rock stars.

The exhibit runs through May 17.
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