I was lucky enough to attend the preview of the new "Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures" exhibition at the Trafford Centre, Manchester, on Thursday 21st October. This is a touring exhibition that has previously visited Germany, Spain and Hungary, and offers the visitor over 1000 high-quality replica objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun. I have previously visited a similar display in Blackpool in 2002, and I must say this the quality of the Manchester exhibit and its objects far surpasses those which I saw then.
The exhibition is set in a huge warehouse in the Museum of Museums at the Trafford Centre, and audio guides and guided tours of the exhibition are available. On entering the visitor first sees the only genuine 'artefact' in the exhibition: a delicate bunch of papyrus stems set in the middle of the entrance.
The evening was certainly a success; over 200 visitors enjoyed Egyptian music and refreshments while they milled around the display. There were several speeches, including those of the German team behind the project, the Chairman of Ancient Egypt Magazine, Bob Partridge, and the Director of Manchester Museum, Dr. Nick Merriman.
The great benefit of this exhibition is that the majority of the objects have been replicated twice, but displayed in different contexts: the visitor is able to see the Antechamber, the Treasury and the Burial Chamber as Howard Carter found them. Each room is recreated with precise attention to detail, based on the original Harry Burton photographs, though I must say that for me the Antechamber is the most spectacular, on account of the fact that the visitor is able to view the room from between the two 'guardian statues' - a vantage point that is not available in Cairo.
|The Middle Coffin|
The visitor then enters a succession of rooms containing a sizable collection of objects: the coffins and shrines have all been replicated, together with the burial mask of course, and objects from both daily life and the afterlife fill the enormous space. Some of the key objects include the golden throne, which has been copied in precise detail and displayed upon a dais, and one of the king's chariots, which is the centrepiece of a display on Egyptian Warfare.
|The Quartzite Sarcophagus|
Finally, the visitor enters a room dedicated to the work of Howard Carter, in association with the Griffith Institute - here, detailed replicas of Carter's watercolours hang upon the walls, and a set of flat-bed cases contain facsimile letters addressed to and from Carter, together with a selection of his publications. A film of highlights of the excavation and of Carter's life is also projected in this room. A well-equipped gift shop is available at the end of the exhibition.