When I was 19 I went to Egypt on the back of spending a summer on a Kibbutz in Israel. Egypt was different back then. Sharm el Sheikh was still a desert. I remember coming across only one store while in a taxi from the Suez Canal travelling down to Dahab. But there was talk about development and when I returned five years ago with my family, I couldn’t believe the transformation. And now … I’m curious about what Cairo is like today.
I consider Cairo one of my favourite places in the world and right now the city is preparing for the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which I’m so excited about. It will be the largest archeological museum in the world and will exhibit the full Tutankhamun collection, including pieces that have never been seen before. I remember visiting Cairo Museum all those years ago and seeing the empty display cases with signs telling visitors that what we were looking for was somewhere else in the world.
Today the treasures of Tutankhamun can be found in London – at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square in Chelsea to be precise. And this will be the last time these treasures will be seen outside Egypt before they are returned to Cairo to their new home at the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The exhibition opened at Saatchi Gallery at the start of November and will continue until May 2020. I was lucky enough to have attended the press preview for work and yes, the festive season was so busy I’m just getting round to writing about it now.
Tutankhamun: Treasures of a Golden Pharaoh has 150 original objects from the tomb on display, 60 of which have travelled out of Egypt for the first and final time. And if you are vaguely interested in the stories of Ancient Egypt, each of these objects will fill you with wonder and awe. They certainly did for me and I wished I could have spent hours taking them in one by one, so much so I’m thinking of splashing out on what is supposed to be the most expensive exhibition ticket in London. When you consider how substantially more economical it is compared to jumping on a plane to Cairo, it doesn’t seem so bad.
At the exhibition I absolutely loved reading about the treasures that filled King Tutankhamun’s tomb, which were to accompany him through the Netherworld. And as much as I loved discovering the function of each object on this journey, I also loved the stories of The Ba and Ka; the soul taking the form of the ba which is depicted as a bird and the ka representing the deceased’s life force, which resided in the mummy; along with other mystical tales that were associated with the objects.
There is so much to enjoy at this exhibition and the beauty is certainly in the detail. It’s also definitely an experience that you take your time over rather than rush through. If you do, you might miss something magical right in front of you.
Tutankhamun: Treasures of a Golden Pharaoh, Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY