Treasures of ancient Egypt presents largest group of antiquities ever loaned by Egypt for exhibition in US
Egypt, Local, 6/29/2002
Ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices based on the afterlife journey of pharaohs will be dramatically illustrated through approximately 115 magnificent objects from Egypt and a life-sized reconstruction of the burial chamber of the New Kingdom pharaoh Thutmose III (1479-1425 B.C.) in an exhibition in Washington.
"The Quest for Immortality : Treasures of ancient Egypt" was officially inaugurated at the National Gallery of Art, East Building, Washington, D.C. Egypt's ambassador to the States Nabil Fahmi and a high-level delegation attended the opening.
It is due to open to the public June 30 through October 14, 2002. This exhibition is the largest selection of antiquities ever loaned by Egypt for exhibition in North America.
It includes objects that have never been for exhibition in North America. It includes objects that have never been on public display and many that have never been seen outside of Egypt.
The announcement of the exhibition was made today at the National Gallery of Art by Earl A. Powell III, director; His Excellency M. Nabil Fahmi, the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt; and Teit Ritsau, President, United Exhibits Group, Copenhagen.
"Egypt is proud of its rich heritage and feels duty bound to share it with the world at large. The Quest for Immortality is a fascinating and vivid exhibition that will leave longstanding impressions and have an invaluable contribution to better cultural understanding between Americans and Egyptians," said Ambassador Fahmi.
The Quest for Immortality is part of the Gallery's long ; tradition of bringing great art to the United States to expand American understanding of world cultures throughout human history," said Powell. "We are grateful to our partners, United Exhibits Group, and the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Cairo, for making this important exhibition a reality."
The quest for Immortality is the Gallery's third exhibition dedicated to the ancient art of Egypt.
Tutankhamun Treasures (1961) included 34 small objects, and the renowned blockbuster, Treasures of Tutankhamun, included 55 objects and attracted 835,924 people to the Gallery in 1967-1977 before traveling to Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, Now York, and San Francisco.
The exhibition is organized by Untied Exhibits Group, Copenhagen, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Supreme Council of antiquities, Cairo. Objects are loaned by the Egyptian government and come from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Luxor Museum, and the sites of Tanis and Deir El-Bahari.
The exhibition will travel throughout the United State and Canada for a period of five years. To date, in addition to the National Gallery of Art, the venues include the Museum of Science, Boston, November 20, 2002 - March 30, 2003; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, May 4 - September 14, 2003; New Orleans Museum of Art, October 19, 2003 - February 25, 2004; the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, September 12, 2004 - January 23, 2005; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 2 December 31, 2007.
From the earliest times, Egyptians denied the physical impermanence of life. They formulated a remarkably complex set of religious beliefs and funneled vast material resources into the quest for immortality.
The exhibition focuses on the understanding of the afterlife among Egyptians some 3000 years ago, in the period of the New Kingdom (1550-1069) through the late Period (664-332 B.C.).
The New Kingdom marked the beginning of an era of great wealth, power, and stability for Egypt, and was accompanied by a burst of cultural activity, much of which was devoted to the quest for eternal life.
The exhibition is divided into six sections; journey to the Afterworld, The New Kingdom, the Royal tomb, Tombs of Nobles, The Realm of the Gods, and the Tomb of Thutmose III.
Among the objects in the exhibition are the Boat from the tomb of Amenhotep (18th Dynasty), an 8-foot-long wooden model of a pharaoh river ship that used to sail on the Nile, painted with scenes of the god Montu smiting the enemies of Egypt; the sandstone Head of Thutmose (18th Dynasty), derived from one of the standing colossal statues of the King, numerous gold and jeweled items from the royal tombs at Tanis (21st and 22nd Dynasties), acclaimed as the most significant royal burial site since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, the Canopic chest of Queen Nedjmet (late 20th Dynasty) that was made to hold her internal organs, the Sarcophagus of Khonsu from the 19th Dynasty painted with beautiful scenes of the afterlife (shown only in Washington, D.C); and the sculpture of the god Osiris (25th Dynasty), wrapped as a mummy with a gold and electrum headdress shown lying on his stomach with his head lifted, in the process of resurrecting.
The last room of the exhibition is a reconstruction of the tomb of Thutmose III, ruler of Egypt in the 15th century B.C. On the walls is the earliest known complete copy of the Amduat, the great texts describing the sun god's journey through the afterworld during the 12 hours of night when the sun god defeats his enemies in the netherworld and achieves rebirth at the eastern horizon to rise again in the morning sky.
The King joins the sun god and the populace of Egypt follows along to share in the triumphant cycle of death and rebirth. The red granite lid of the massive sarcophagus of Nitocris, daughter of Psamtik I (25th Dynasty), is installed in the room.
A film, the Quest for Immortality in Ancient Egypt, was produced by the National Gallery of Art and made possible by the HRH foundation. A ten-minute version will be shown continuously in a theater within the exhibition.
A 30-minute version will be shown at scheduled times in the East Building large and small auditoriums.
The film contains new footage of the temple of Karnak, tombs in the Valley of the Rings and other sites on the West Bank of the Nile, as well as interviews with eminent Egyptologists who help unravel the intricacies of the ancient Egyptians' view of the afterlife.
The exhibition was conceived by Erik Hornung, professor emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, Betsy H. Bryan, Alexander Badawi Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology and chair of the department of Near Eastern Studios, the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, is the quest curator for the exhibition.
The 526-page exhibition catalogue, co published by the national Gallery of Art and Prestel, is richly illustrated with some 190 color photographs, including multiple details of any objects.
The catalogue, which was co-edited by Hornung and Bryan, contains essays by them and Fayza Haikal, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, entries on each object; a selected guide to the gods; a chronology; a glossary; and a bibliography.
It will be available for $ 30 in soft cover and $ 65 in hardcover in the Gallery Shops during the exhibition.
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