By CARSON DESHEVY-RENOUF
Throughout history, many empires have risen and fallen, shaping what people now recognize as modern society. Unwrapping Egypt, the popular travelling exhibit currently on display at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener, offers insight into one such empire: ancient Egypt.
Running since May 2014, Unwrapping Egypt has become one of THEMUSEUM’s longest running attractions. The exhibit focuses on the tomb of the famous King Tutankhamun and the Egyptian empire that once was.
According to the museum’s website, the exhibit consists of “over 400 museum-quality replica artifacts,” meaning that only a few of the pieces on display are original. There is, however, good reasoning for this.
“The drive behind the exhibit was the creation of replicas so that they could travel, because a lot of items in Egyptian culture aren’t allowed to travel, they have to stay in Egypt,” said Nicole Reindl, a gallery attendant.
Since the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, the Egyptian government has been very protective of any artifacts found within the tombs of the ancient kings. Without proper permissions and security, even the few artifacts that can leave Egypt often don’t. This is where expert replicators like those at the Egyptian Arts Center in Egypt come in.
“King Tut is obviously a very key figure in Egyptian history, and (the government) protect(s) his items very closely … so the Egyptian Arts Center made these replicas so that they could travel and people could see them without having to go to Egypt,” Reindl said.
The Egyptian Arts Center was established in 1988, and the replicas that the founder of the company, Tarek Ragab, and his uncle Dr. Hassan Ragab created have travelled all around the world. According to the center’s website, “including stops in Japan, Hong Kong, Poland, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, USA and Canada.”
THEMUSEUM’s exhibit itself is separated into two floors. The third floor of the museum is dedicated to a sort of overview of Egyptian history, whereas the fourth floor contains the true focus of the exhibit, the relics of King Tutankhamun. This is where the most notable pieces of the exhibit lie.
“First we have King Tut’s death mask, one of the most iconic pieces from King Tut’s tomb. A lot of people actually think that it is the real one, but it is actually a replica … Over the summer … we created a partnership with the (Royal Ontario Museum), and they gave us a mummy … She has been the focal point of the exhibit ever since,” Reindl said.
Besides becoming one of the main features of the Unwrapping Egypt exhibit, the mummy, temporarily named Justine while researchers worked to discover her true identity, got to finally bear her own name: Nefret-Mut. The name was deciphered from hieroglyphics that were found on what was believed to be Nefret-Mut’s coffin in October by Toronto Egyptologist Gayle Gibson.
Unwrapping Egypt will run at THEMUSEUM until Feb. 21, and will be followed by three new exhibits. One is a contemporary Canadian nude art exhibit titled: “Getting Naked.” Alongside that, a dinosaur exhibit that was originally created for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Toronto will be coming to the museum called “Dinosaurs: The Edge of Extinction.” Finally, a smaller but equally anticipated exhibit about the Holocaust will join them.
For hours, rates and more information about Unwrapping Egypt visit www.themuseum.ca.