March 11, 2020
Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery is probably the premiere exhibition of the year. Opening last November, it runs until early May 2020 and has thus far drawn huge crowds to Sloane Square with timed entry tickets and numerous five star reviews. We headed down to see what all the fuss was about.
When the Tutankhamun exhibitions toured the world in the 1960s and 1970s, huge crowds descended on cities including Tokyo, Paris and London. Massive numbers of people queues for hours to get into the British Museum, eventually treated to seeing between fifty and sixty treasures that had never before left Egypt. In this latest version of the exhibition, 150+ exhibits have been sent from Egypt with vast numbers never having been allowed out of the country before. Although the infamous death mask is not one of the attractions – it is simply too fragile to travel – there is still a lot of Tutankhamun artefacts on display to make the exhibition worth seeing.
Although there is timed entry, the Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh starts like all good exhibitions – with a short queue. The reason for this is that only a set number of people are allowed in at one time and each small group watches an impressive film shown on a curved display before being allowed to enter. To make the wait more bearable, every guest is able to pose for a photo against a green screen that they can collect at the end (if you pay for it…) You certainly didn’t get that in the 1970s!
The exhibition itself takes place across five galleries and two floors. Billed as the final world tour before the treasures are kept in a purpose built museum in Giza, there is understandably a lot of excitements as guests are led through numerous displays including a coffinette, ceremonial shields, a life size guardian statue of the King and even Tutankhamun’s funeral bed, ornately decorated with Gods on the headboard. The ancient Egyptians certainly had a flair for the artistic!
Accompanying the many items on display are the usual small squares of text but also video, which seeks to show exactly how the items would have been stored or where they sat in the tomb. From bows to figurines and pendants, there is a lot to take in and every single person was utterly absorbed by the spectacle. With timelines on the walls, information on the mythology of the ancient Egyptians and some interesting backstory on Howard Carter, this is definitely an exhibition worth seeing. Want to know what it was like for the archaeologist to discover the tomb? There is even a virtual reality element to enjoy should you so wish.
It is hard to do justice to Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery. Although it is busy, there is more than enough time for guests to enjoy each and every item on display and one never feels crowded. Be patient, wait your turn and you will be handsomely rewarded with a photo opportunity should you so desire. In all, it will take roughly ninety minutes to two hours to take everything in and with an impressive gift shop at the end, there’s also the possibility to take home your very own piece of parchment or scarab beetle decoration should you so desire.
Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh runs until May 3rd May 2020 and you can buy tickets here.
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By Henry Fosdike