I never really had an "Egyptology" stage as a kid, despite always being interested in history and archaeology, but I certainly understand why it has an enduring mass appeal.
A few weeks ago I went to the Tutankamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition at Saachi Gallery, because my travelling companion wanted a gander, and I figured that it would be interesting to see some very unique items, and also to see how the exhibition itself measured to the hype.
Oh there is hype. This is absolutely a "blockbuster" exhibition, proudly trumpeting in it's sales copy the record-breaking volume of visitors in other countries, and stressing the likelihood of tickets selling out.
I decided that rather than try to compile my thoughts into a review afterward (which would mean, realistically, I'd never get round to it), I'd drop a few live tweets to capture my thoughts and feelings as I went round.
Here are the compiled tweets in one spot for you!
The Exhibition continues in London to Sunday 3rd May 2020.
Currently in the queue for the 5.00pm slot, and the 4.30pm slot are lined up around a third of the square.
Hoping the internal exhibition design can cope with the volume like this.
Side Note: Since my visit, website details have been altered/added to, including estimated queue times, and revising advice about arriving early:
"Due to the popularity of the exhibition it may take up to 30 minutes outside to pass through security and enter the exhibition.
Please do not arrive early as previously advised.
Please allow adequate time to enjoy the exhibition (30 minutes to enter, 60-90 mins to go through the exhibition)."
Flow is well managed with spaces without exhibits, and the cabinets are a free flow, so long shuffling lines tend not to form.
Would be good to have staff actively enforcing no flash photography and no videography.
A stunning single object enhanced with marvellous lights, beautiful music, touching words.
The feeling of awe and magic which was almost but not quite achieved in some of the slightly closer spaces.
That's not the final room!
There's a gallery six we're being directed to.
I wonder if it will look at the legacy of Egyptmania, the issues of cultural theft, repatriation?
GALLY SIX IS THE GIFT SHOP.
Oh, spoke too soon.
Plushy King Tut hat, or, er, a hat similar to the one worn by the Egyptologist who's done the Exhibition guide.
Everyone seems to be trying on hats, taking a selfie, not buying
Astonishing objects, atmospheric exhibition design, exciting but not sensationalised context.
5 galleries. Not 6 😉
(I wish people looked at and spent time with objects, rather than photographing everything.)
All of the staff were remarkably enthusiastic and out of their way helpful.
So many visitors with children, explaining and discussing concepts and objects. Kids engrossed, despite no "kiddie" interpretation or activities.
Is it worth going? You really have to swallow any loathing of being surrounded by people determined to take cameraphone images of everything, rather than actually Observing what is in front of them. I took a tiny handful of pictures to illustrate points, and ducked aside whenever I was using my phone. Because if you want to upload an photograph you just took, and you're stood in front of the thing you just photographed, and there are eight other people all trying to look at it, you're a cockwomble.
On the side of the Exhibition itself, there's a good hierarchy of accessibly written information, clever use of screens with subtitled video, and a couple of impressive trickery moments (a good Pepper's Ghost reveal) It's atmospheric in the touches of set dressing, without being tacky. Space around some cabinets did feel a little crowded, but it's always going to be tricky fitting a touring exhibition into a range of different venues, and the occasional strangely shaped alcove or immovable pillar have to be worked around.
You can see the original twitter thread, with a few comments and questions, here.