Tennessee State Museum Opens Egyptian Relics Replicas & Revivals Treasures from Tutankhamun

. February 28, 2011 . 0 Comments

A three-part exhibition looking at the art, history, and culture of ancient Egypt and its influence on Tennessee opened at the Tennessee State Museum on Sunday, February 27 and continue until Sept. 4, 2011.

The exhibit, entitled Egyptian Relics, Replicas & Revivals: Treasures from Tutankhamun, features ancient artifacts from the Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology of the University of Memphis (IEAA/UM) and beautifully detailed replicas presented in the International Museum Institute of New York (IMINY) traveling exhibition, “Tutankhamun: ‘Wonderful Things’ from the Pharaoh’s Tomb.”

Additionally, the exhibit also measures Egypt’s surprisingly broad footprint in Tennessee as seen in Egyptian revival works from the collections of the State Museum, as well as objects loaned by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and Vanderbilt University (VU). These works date from the mid-1800s to contemporary times.

Visitors will begin with an introduction to the daily life and funerary culture of ancient Egypt told with actual ancient artifacts on loan from the University of Memphis. Egyptian culture thrived along the Nile River in northeastern Africa for more than 3,000 years. This section of the exhibition will provide insight about Egyptian geography, religion, economics, and architecture, as well as the development of hieroglyphics, a form of picture writing, and other scripts which have aided scholars in interpreting Egypt’s history and culture. Highlights of the IEAA/UM exhibition include a model of a boat from more than 3,600 years ago; bronze statues of the gods, Amun-Re, Osiris, and Isis; an ancient musical instrument called a sistrum; jewelry; an ancient stool; and a painted coffin head and other funerary artifacts.

The exhibition narrative then proceeds to a discovery of King Tutankhamun’s fabled treasures. On November 26, 1922, British explorer Howard Carter made archaeological history by unearthing the first nearly intact pharaonic tomb. At the tomb door, Carter peered a small opening, and when asked by his benefactor, Lord Carnarvon, (who was behind him) if he could see anything, Carter responded, “Yes, wonderful things.”

More than 100 finely crafted replicas based on the treasures from this important archeological find were created by artisans from Chicago’s Field Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pharaonic Village in Cairo, Egypt, many decorated in gold leaf, ivory and semiprecious stones. These IMINY reproductions highlight some of the most sacred and personal possessions found in the tomb and burial chamber of Tutankhamun, including his golden funerary mask and sarcophagus, all of which were intended to provide comfort for the “Boy King” in the afterlife.

The exhibit also includes replicas of the tomb’s royal chariot, golden shrines, beds, thrones, jewelry, mummy case, and the royal mummy. These are framed by replicas of other famous Egyptian pieces, such as the beautiful bust of Queen Nefertiti, mirroring the original now in the Ägyptisches Museum in Berlin, Germany. King Tut’s original treasures are located today in the Cairo Museum

Since the early 19th century, the fascination with ancient Egyptian civilization has had an important influence on Tennessee culture. Egyptomania, as this fascination is often termed, was spurred here by the renewed interest aroused by Napoleon’s egyptian campaign” (1798–1801) and is explored in the final section of the exhibition.

Highlights include furnishings from Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church designed by architect William Strickland in 1849 in the Egyptian revival-style; 19th century views of Egyptian antiquities from the Frank H. McClung Museum of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Vanderbilt University Special Collections, as well as Egyptian-themed art, toys and collectibles. Objects from the State Museum’s collection on view will include native Tennessee artist Red Grooms’ colorful Egyptian-themed satires.

An ancient Egyptian mummy said to be about 3,300 years old has long been a part of the State Museum’s permanent exhibits. Donated to the Tennessee Historical Society in 1859 by Nashville Merchant Marine Jeremiah George Harris, the mummy and its history continue to captivate museum visitors, along with its mysterious tiny companion, the ancient mummy of a cat. As part of the Egyptian-themed exhibitions, an explanation of the ancient Egyptian art of preparing a mummy has been added near the mummies on the museum’s mezzanine level. Preserving the body was critical in ancient Egyptian funerary belief and practice. Ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife where the spirit, the “ka,” would return to the original body. Visitors can learn more about the materials, techniques, rituals, and beliefs surrounding the ancient Egyptian mummification process.

“The staff of the Tennessee State Museum has worked closely with several other cultural and academic institutions to create this unique and fascinating look at ancient Egypt. This exhibit will give many visitors a glimpse of the stunning treasures resembling those found in the legendary tomb of the boy pharaoh, Tutankhamun,” Museum Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell said. “This exhibition is particularly inspiring for young people who are learning about ancient civilizations and how they have helped shape our modern world.”

Egyptian Relics, Replicas & Revivals has been organized by the Tennessee State Museum, in collaboration with the Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology of The University of Memphis and with the Frank H. McClung Museum of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. TUTANKHAMUN “Wonderful Things”is presented in association with the International Museum Institute of New York. The exhibition is sponsored in part by Bridgestone Americas, Inc., with additional funding made possible by Neal & Harwell and several anonymous donors.

On view in the museum’s Changing Galleries through September 4, 2011, Egyptian Relics, Replicas & Revivals: Treasures from Tutankhamun has no admission charge. Several special events are being planned in association with the exhibition such as school tours, lectures and an Egyptian-themed film festival. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Image: Replica of the Golden Throne and Ceremonial Footrest. Courtesy International Museum Institute of New York.

About the Tennessee State Museum:
In 1937, the Tennessee General Assembly created a state museum to house World War I artifacts and other collections from the state, along with the Tennessee Historical Society, and other groups. The museum was located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building until it was moved into the new James K. Polk Cultural Center in 1981. The Tennessee State Museum currently occupies three floors, covering approximately 120,000 square feet with more than 60,000 square feet devoted to exhibits.


Category: Antiquities

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