Review: King Tut at the DAM

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Yesterday’s media preview proved that Tutankhamen: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs at the Denver Art Museum is worth the hype.
While there isn’t the iconic blue and gold mask, there are glittering necklaces of hammered gold and gem beads, monumental busts of pharaohs and queens carved with exquisite detail and sweet, homely objects like Tut’s own reed bed.

Falcon necklace
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Falcon necklace

A colossal bust of Akhenaten, Tuts father
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A colossal bust of Akhenaten, Tut's father

I was intensely impressed by the clean lines of ancient Egypt’s decidedly modern aesthetics (the necklaces and beauty ideals are things you see today), the luxurious ornaments for tombs and living bodies, but the largest sentiment I left with was one of bittersweetness.
The large exhibit — 130 objects — includes coffinettes that encased Tut’s organs (with information on the jars that held the coffinettes and the the box that held the jars and the shrine that held the box), and gold coverings for his fingers and toes, all the trappings for a brilliant afterlife. But he was also buried with his own belongings from life, again, the bed, but also a small game and a tiny — albeit richly carved — chair.

Tuts chair
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Tut's chair

A game that belonged to Tut, similar to parcheesi
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A game that belonged to Tut, similar to parcheesi

The fact that he was so well prepared in death, like any pharaoh of course, is impressive. The fact that he was a teenager, though, is touching. The preparations speak to a sense of closure that we still practice today.

Look for a full review of this show in Thursday's Indy.

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