Thirty Years Later

Summer of 1979 lingered into early fall that year. The first major collection of artifacts from the tomb of King Tutankhamun came to San Francisco. I happened to be one of 1.4 million people who stood in line to see them.

The Golden Age of the Pharoahs almost didn’t make it to the city that year. San Francisco wasn’t on the original North American tour schedule. But thanks to a delegation of city officials and philanthropic citizens, San Franciscan’s got a taste of what a museum experience should be. Organizers and curators of the event stopped at nothing to make the exhibit very special. Ironically, of all the scheduled venues on the tour, attendance at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park garnered the largest crowd.

king_tutThis past Tuesday I had another chance to stand in front of artifacts dating from 1300 BC. The treasures of King Tut are once again luring thousands to the recently renovated de Young. Creepy in some ways, astonishing in so many others, seeing treasures made of gold, carvings of stone and glass, jewelry, furniture and burial paraphernalia that was crafted over 3000 years ago is still a treat the second time around.

While the museum experience in ’79 changed the way San Fransicans would forever visit a museum again, this new exhibit pulls out all the stops. Having a somewhat Disney-like Indian Jones feel, visitors are ushered by small lots through heavy double wooden doors to a dark and cool antechamber. A ninety-second video introduction welcomes you to the Valley of the Kings. You then snake your way around dimly lit pillars into further chambers that hold treasures of King Tut’s ancestors. Continuing deep into the bowels of the exhibit hall you eventually come to a vast tomb-like room filled with the artifacts that accompanied King Tut in the afterlife.

In the very last chamber, new scientific evidence surrounding the unexpected death of the nineteen year old king is revealed. Ironically King Tut was not even buried in his own tomb, but the tomb of his advisor. The exhibit is full of history, art, wonder and mystery. 3000 years is a longtime, but what a difference 30 years can still make. See the exhibit if you can.

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2 Responses to “Thirty Years Later”

  1. Claire M Says:

    I was thrilled to find this post. Going to the Tut exhibit in S.F. is on my list of things to do. My husband and I also saw it ‘way back when’, but I couldn’t remember the year. I think you just solved the puzzle for me — 1979 fits nicely in our history — sounds like that is probably when we went. Thanks for sharing your latest experience.

    • Marianne Post Says:

      Hope you get there. I will be curious to hear what you think of the 21st century experience. Some of the same, but also a much more theatrical presentation along with items I don’t remember seeing last time around.

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