November 2, 1998
'Look into the eyes of antiquity'
by Deborah Stone
A collection of over 130 Egyptian treasures representing the art, architecture and lifestyle of humankind's longest-lived civilization is currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum.
"Egypt, Gift of the Nile: Ancient Art and Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania Museum" represents more than a century of archeological excavations by the University of Pennsylvania and includes objects dating from the fourth millennium BC to the Greco-Roman period.
The exhibit provides a well-rounded picture of ancient Egyptian culture with details about their daily life and spiritual beliefs. Each of the four galleries simulates an ancient setting: a noble's home, a Pharaoh's palace, a temple for the gods and a tomb for eternal life.
"Visitors can look into the eyes of antiquity as they contemplate these treasures," says SAM curator Pam McClusky. "They will begin to understand why the Egyptians saw genius in everything around them."
Highlights include mummy masks, well-preserved sculptures of distinguished Egyptians, coffins covered with hieroglyphics, mirrors, jewelry and wine jars used in everyday life and royal portraits.
The Chapel of Kaipura, a 4,300-year-old Old Kingdom funerary chapel wall, covered with hieroglyphs and pictures, is the most imposing object, weighing 12.5 tons and spreading across a twenty-two foot wall.
It is made of thirty stone blocks and has an immense false door which the Egyptians believed was a means for the "ba" (the part of an individual believed to remain in motion after death) to enter and leave the tomb.
"Egypt, Gift of the Nile," is accessible to a broad audience. Families with children will find the numerous programs associated with the exhibit both educational and entertaining.
A special narrative for use with families will be available in the CD-ROM gallery guide that SAM offers as part of the exhibit.
Of special note is a family festival, "Egypt Extravaganza," to be held on Nov. 14, which promises to be a day chocked full of activities for visitors of all ages to explore ancient Egypt.
Kid-friendly materials have been designed for hands-on fun and include an interactive activity guide to help children understand more about exhibit.
Computers are located in the galleries for visitors to surf the Nile and use state-of-the art technology to delve further into this time period. The Children's Museum and Seattle Children's Theatre will also be holding workshops to explore the themes, ideas and characters of "Egypt, Gift of the Nile."
It is SAM's hope that visitors will gain new knowledge and increased respect for the amazing contributions this civilization made
The exhibit runs through January 10. For more information call 206-654-3196.