By: Amy Stupavsky

Attention Egyptophiles

Courtesy of AGO

King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, one of the most highly anticipated exhibits to hit Toronto, opened on Nov. 24 at the AGO, its only Canadian venue. The exhibit introduces museum-goers to the culture behind the mummies and pyramids.

“Our first weekend completely sold out,” said Sue Bloch-Nevitt, AGO Director of Public Affairs. “We turned away enough people to fill the exhibit twice over.”

High on theatrics, the journey begins as Harrison Ford’s commanding narration welcomes visitors. Large doors usher the crowd into rooms filled with over 100 objects and a wealth of didactic information. Visitors channel their inner Indiana Jones as they weave through a section mimicking Howard Carter’s entry into Tut’s tomb, featuring artifacts culled from each chamber.

“We’re trying to broaden the definitions of art,” said Bloch-Nevitt. “It’s as much about art as it is about artifacts.”

While some of the displays border on kitschy – during this reporter’s visit, a group of schoolgirls tittered uncontrollably at the Ancient Egyptian toilet seat – the exhibit appeals to a wide range of interests.

The focal points are the jewelry and sculptures. A canopic coffinette, once encasing King Tut’s stomach, highlights the artistry of Egyptian craftsmen with its inlaid golden brilliance. A larger-than-life sandstone statue of Amenhotep IV and the gold death mask of Psussennes I elicit similar wonderment.

“It’s stunning to me, the mystery and myth of Ancient Egyptian life,” said Bloch-Nevitt. “In real time and in real proximity, we can see everyday objects and sculptures made by human hands over 3,000 years ago.”

King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs runs through April 18, 2010. Admission to King Tut is $16.50 for students on weekdays, and $18.50 on Friday nights, holidays and weekends. Bloch-Nevitt noted that Thursday nights are relatively crowd-free.

Correction: In our print version we published incorrect admission prices. We apologize for this error.

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