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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Tut Exhibit

My travellogue series on Sundries takes us today to the much promised, King Tut in South Florida exhibit.

I finally was able to take in the glories of the boy King of Egypt, this weekend, in nearby Ft. Lauderdale.

Before we start our exciting visual journey, please note that the King Tut exhibition is on tour around the United States until 2007, perhaps coming to a city near you.

They are:

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art): June 16 to Nov. 15, 2005

Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale: December 2005

The Field Museum, Chicago: May 2006

The Franklin Institute, Philadelpiha, January 2007


So far, the MOAFL (as locals call it), has hit two homeruns in the World Series of local art exhibits, as the Miami Art Museum, located in downtown Miami, could never compete with their two successive triumphs:

The Princess Diana Exhibit, and now King Tut.

(In fact, the MAM is so denutered in quality recently, that I haven't visited it going on 4 years now -- despite it being located in a gorgeous Philip Johnson Spanish fortress-a-like, alongside the Main Library building. Keen eyes may remember this setting from the "There's Something about Mary" film)

But no matter.

Whether in Miami or in Ft. Lauderdale, South Floridians will have their culture, and like it!

Come join me now, as we explore the many secrets left behind by King Tutankhamen's tomb.

You don't believe in the Curse of the Moomy, do you?


KING TUT IN STYLE





This past weekend was amongst the most azure, perfectly sunny weekends in February, I have ever seen since my move to the area.

So, of course, what do South Floridians do -- but head inside a deeply darkened, a/c controlled museum!

This is King Tut's second tour of the United States since 1977, and I surmise, a lot of people missed the first, and sure weren't going to miss the second.

The amount of people there, the moment you rounded the corner of the MOAFL, was staggering.

I had no idea what I had let myself into, completely missing the fact that this, of course, was a long weekend -- it was President's Day on Monday.

And Family Day in the province of Calgary, but I digress.





I arrived mid-afternoon, hoping to catch a later showing, having phoned ahead to inquire about the tickets.

I knew it was first-come, first-served basis, and also that a section of people were allowed in, once every 30 minutes, so I was prepared to wait.

Here is the Box Office, surrounded in great style by Egyptian bibelots which you could purchase if you had just mortgaged your house.

The anubus pictured here, was 400 dollars...US.





Ticket in hand, I decided to stop by the Museum shop, which had so lovingly carried Princess Diana tschokes only a year before.

Their theme was what I call, Moderno-Retro-Contempo Egyptian Mafia Kitsch.

Basically, imagine the set of TBN, the evangelical TV channel, as decorated by Dolly Parton, the Sultan of Brunei, and Tammy Faye Bakker, and you have a fair idea of the items on offer.

And maybe if I were as wealthy as the Sultan of Brunei, I could begin to afford the Tut Exhibit catalogue, modestly priced at only $50.

Frankly, I saw nothing that screamed, "Buy me!", as items do, say, in Saks Fifth Avenue.

Although these tricorned Pharaoh hats above were rather fun.

Many-time bridesmaid that I am, I do, however, know when I won't ever have need to wear this again -- so I passed.





Finally, the time of entry had arrived.

I was told to queue up at the "tent", visible here. No sweat, being British, queueing is in my blood.

But never did I dream that the wait would take almost an hour!

Of course, the Sultan of Brunei would not have had to wait, since there was a VIP queue you could be whisked into, and although I did think I had spied Lindsay Lohan, it probably was just one of the Olsens.

The queue itself was not boring. Not when you're a master eavesdropper, like I am.

I heard all kinds of conversations from people of all social backgrounds. They varied from Michigan matrons from Ann Arbor, to ghetto-denizens from nearby Sunrise. Very amusing.

If anything, it reminded me of waiting for a ride at Disney World, or more to the point, Epcot.

The looping queue could've doubled as the one at that sucky Maelstorm ride at Norway House...





...but like visiting your GP for a check-up, the waiting was not yet done when they showed you to the examination room. Oh no.

That photo above is the below-queue.

This one here is the above-queue, which required a further 20 minute wait just outside the actual beginning of the exhibit.

See the cordoned off lines to the right of the guard? The one closest to the wall is the VIP queue.

(I honestly don't see the advantage of paying more just to have the right to enter this exhibit, first. I mean, it's not like First-Class on an airplane where you get round-the-clock champers and free nibbly bits, know what I mean?)

Since it was dark by the time I arrived atop the building, I was cooled by the small wind from the nearby Las Olas Riverfront.

I can only imagine the poor suckers who had to wait as long as I did, but in the teeming 85F sun we had earlier.





The actual ticket price was (weekend) $30 for adults, $14 for children, whilst students, military ID-holders, and seniors were at $27.50.

I whipped out my Cane Card faster than you can say "Matthew Lesko". You know, that crazy infomercials guy, who shouts about government programme freebies.

He would've been astonished that not only had I paid such a pricey entry, but that I had actually splurged on the Audio Tour phones too.

They were a further 7 dollars...sigh.

Little did I know that, disjointed as the narration was, they would be invaluable overall.

And yes, as with everything to do with Egypt, it was narrated most elegantly by Omar Sharif, whose mother, it is said, always fainted when she saw him, because he was so handsome.

Ouchies.





Without spoiling the exhibit too much, lest you see it yourself, let me just say that I had read in another blog that the first "scene" when you actually entered the exhibit, was a "spectacular" video presentation.

Well, that person must have a lower threshold for drama than I, because basically it was just a 2-minute clip explaining the life of King Tut.

Nothing the Travel Channel couldn't do, and in fact, has done frequently.

Sadly, the tour guide (who soon disappeared, since it was a guideless/docentless exhibition) told us not to take photos, and that people who did so, would be asked to leave.

This accounts for the lack of really good photographs, which to show you.

I love you all very much, but I'm not spending the night in gaol with a tattoed woman named Bobby-Jo, just for some bootlegged mummy pics.

I did take a few though, and this one above is actually rather atmospheric -- as people crowd around one of the solid gold artifacts. The crowds were 6 rows deep around some vitrines.

I believe this is the Shabti, or the figurine put inside tombs as a guide to the afterlife.

When Omar Sharif got to the Shabti (item 13 on the audiotour), his voice got all hoarse and mysterious, or maybe his mother had just fainted again.





This was the showstopper -- a real life Tut mummy coffin.

I couldn't get anywhere close to it, to get a really good shot without giving my cover away, so excuse the slight angle of the photo.

In retrospect, I wish I had stayed longer around this exhibit, admiring its fine-tooled hieroglyphs detailed in gold.

But, you see, I thought this coffin was just a precursor to the mummy masks, and other gold coffins, which Howard Carter had discovered so many years ago.

Alas. This was it.

In fact, I'm slightly upset about that, and I know many others were too, as they exited the exhibit.

In every catalogue or advertisement for this exhibit, one gets a shot of the famed Tut death mask, in solid gold and faience of many colours.

In vain, did I hope to see that, because as the guard at the exit said, those don't leave Egypt.

Well, whoop-dee-freaking-do! They could've said.





My air of annoyance was not improved by exiting to find a special gift shop, different from the one near the Box Office.

It had many many items, mostly aimed at the kiddies, with miniature Tut and Nefertiti dollies priced at $18.95, and the like.

Obviously, I didn't buy anything, but two pens, shaped like Tut's head, which my mother promptly called "voodoo-ish" when I showed her.

Bah, what does she know of TBN glamour?

But I did have as fun a time, as I could, checking everything out in the gift shop.

If I had 200 dollars, this is what I would've bought: a reproduction of King Tut's mask.

It would have gone beautifully in my bedroom, next to my Diana the Huntress marble bust. Don't ask.





One of the pens will be sent on to Renato, to compensate for having bored him by constant calls during the exhibit.

"I'm in the queue now!"
"Still in the queue."
"Haven't moved much."
"Hello, may I speak to Renato? Thank you...hey Renato, yep, I'm still in the queue."


But I did think of getting one of these tasteful Tut ties for dad.

You can never plan too early for Christmas prezzies.





But just as I left, having perused everything and found them all hopelessly tacky, I saw this item.

Care to guess what it is?

Yes, a Tut Bobblehead!!

This is when it struck me -- the utter icongruity of the artifacts I had just seen, reduced to this, a bobblehead, the ultimate modern tourist schlock.

(Apart from the Niagara Falls back scratchers, obviously)

I got to thinking:

Hundreds of years from now, when a King Tut exhibit is still making its hopeful way around some galactic stop, will there also be an exhibit, called perhaps,

"Early Twenty-First Century"

...where the same teeming crowds of tourists had paid God-knows-how-many Intra-stellar dollars to view life as we live it today.

And pride of place, was the bobblehead.

Tourists will ooh-and-ahh, marvelling at its fine design.

Four thousand years is a long time, and perhaps what seemed discardable, even laughable then, is our treasure now.

Mind you, at least King Tut died as grandly as he had lived.

Somehow, a bobblehead of the Sultan of Brunei with an articulated neck seems so gauche and tawdry and cheap.

...hmm, perhaps it's a perfect memento, after all.


P.S.: This exhibit has not been free of controversy.

A blind husband-and-wife duo have sued the MOAFL for not being able to see the Tut exhibit properly.

No, I'm not kidding...

Also, there were many complaints about the King Tut artifacts on show, by African-Amerian patrons.

Seems they were upset that King Tut was shown with "Caucasian" features, and not "Negroid" features, being African and all.

I'm not sure if they had read the Debbie Allen History of Egypt, or what, but if the artists at the time portrayed their young Pharaoh the way they did, chances are, he resembled those features, at least a little.

It wasn't some nefarious KKK plot to lessen his Africanness in portraiture...

I found this out, after the exibit, when researching for this post.

But I can tell you, I personally was somewhat taken aback that many of the statuettes shown there, were about the Upper Egyptians stomping on the torsos of the Egyptians' arch-foes, the Nubians.

And guess who the Nubians resembled in those exhibit rooms?

I noticed one darkly-toned African-American father and son didn't look best pleased when they saw that.

Finally, in related news, I heard that there will be a Titanic exhibit coming in November, to the Miami Science Museum and Planetarium!

I'm as much a sucker for Titanic relics, as for King Tut ones, so you all can book your seat in my travellogue, soon.

MORE TUT PICS!: I felt a bit bad about the photos. You came here to see King Tut, not me rambling on about bobbleheads.

So without further ado, here are a few more assorted pics.




So, of course, having said that, I'd start out with two non-exhibit pictures, wouldn't I? However, I want you to get a feel of the Museum's surroundings.

This is the outdoor mall called Las Olas Riverfront, which is actually less than a decade old.

It's the equivalent of South Beach's Ocean Drive, although neither the people, nor the buildings in any way resemble the sleek, art nouveau stylings of Miami Beach's glorious thoroughfare.

In fact, I was a bit disappointed in this mall, looking already rather threadbare, and chintzy.

This is also true of the general Ft. Lauderdale area, whose newest citizens settled there, because amongst other things, it's more "American" (read, there are less Cubans there).

There are some people who are Broward County people...and some who are Dade County people -- and I am definitely part of the latter.





Remember that shot of the tricorned hats up top? Check this out.

Some old broad decided it would be a good idea to (a) buy one (b) wear it immediately.

She cut a dashing figure, with her black t-shirt, 55 inch bust, and a Pharaoh's hat complimenting her salt-and-pepper moustache.

At least when I bought my mouse ears at Disney World, I was as cute as a button.





From agist, I will now go to snobbish, as I comment on this photo, the second best clear photo I took of the exhibit, pretending to take a breather on the benches.

Basically I took it because the man looking at the statuette (a blue-headed Tut, to signify his religious incarnation as Pharaoh), had a huge mullet.

Now, lots of people went there looking very good. I saw a few gentlemen wearing suits and ties.

But you also got some of these 1970's rejects, with mullets, and women who have no business wearing shorts.

No business, ya hear!





And finally, this photo -- of the very first exhibit you see upon entering the place.

I had positioned myself behind a mother, father, two kids who were African-American.

They looked a fine family, albeit not well-to-do, which intrigued me since this jaunt must've cost them a good 100 dollars overall.

What a disappointment to hear them say things which were frankly, a bit racist against white people. Ah well.

But, a little later on, when I saw them again near the Shabtis vitrine, I had to chuckle inwardly.

Dad and son were talking about the statuette before them, which featured Egyptians crushing Nubians under their feet:

"Why are they stomping on black folk?"
"I don't know."
"Why would Tut do that to his own people, Dad?"
"I don't know."


I've often met such people in Academia, who have a very odd, us-versus-them view of the world in every facet of their lives, but I was sad to see these kids had been indoctrinated this early, to be this narrow.

Shame.

Although of course what I really wanted to say, as I passed them was:

"What, you never heard of black-on-black crime?"

Oh, behave!

8 Comments:

  • Oh, King Tut. That's nice, too. And great review. I felt like I was almost there and - "sucky Maelstorm ride at Norway House..."

    Wha?

    Ahem.

    Now, Victoria. Don't you know that everything at Epcot is just fantastic? Oh, okay, when we were there for the umpteenth time in the summer of 2004, it was getting a little run down. The Living Seas had virtually no fish in the tank and they'd done away with the glide through the tunnel in the chariot portion of the ride and the Imagination pavillion had turned off the fountains and they'd installed the jungle of ugly black granite plinths at the entrance. But "sucky Maelstrom ride?" I think not! My girls find it terribly exciting and Mom and Dad find it a nice, cool, dark place to relax for a few minutes. That and it's still all you can eat over in Germany so how bad can things be?

    Anyway, you went to the King Tut thingy and not Epcot. Nice. You also mentioned a Titanic exhibit coming. If it's the same one that came through here in Oklahoma City, you'll love it.

    Thanks for the travelogue.

    ("Sucky Maelstrom ride." Harrummph.)

    By Blogger Pete, at Wed Feb 22, 06:09:00 am GMT-5  

  • Excellent, now I don't have to drive to the MOAFL and wait in line to see it!!! You did a wonderful job describing the experience; and you even risked incarceration so us Sundries fans could get our own glimpse!

    Gracias Victoria!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Wed Feb 22, 09:22:00 am GMT-5  

  • Oh, King Tut. That's nice, too.

    Oh-oh.

    This wasn't exactly the fireworks of enthusiasm I was expecting.

    I sense something else going on!

    And great review. I felt like I was almost there and - "sucky Maelstorm ride at Norway House..."

    Ahhhhhh. I get it.

    An irate Epcot fan. Gotcha.

    Wha?

    Ahem.

    Now, Victoria. Don't you know that everything at Epcot is just fantastic?


    Squeeze me?? Baking Powder?? It SUCKS.

    Now don't get me wrong.

    I haven't been there in almost 8 years, but Epcot, and that MGM thingie absolutely rot compared to the Magic Kingdom itself.

    I'd take Epcot over MGM any day, but what the heck is that golf ball thing about??

    Come on. It's silly.

    Oh, okay, when we were there for the umpteenth time in the summer of 2004, it was getting a little run down.

    See!

    The Living Seas had virtually no fish in the tank and they'd done away with the glide through the tunnel in the chariot portion of the ride and the Imagination pavillion had turned off the fountains and they'd installed the jungle of ugly black granite plinths at the entrance.

    Wow, it sounds even worse than I remember it.

    They seriously need to overhaul this theme park, although I did recently see some posters alongside US-1 here, announcing the Everest Ride in Disney's Animal Kingdom park (which I've never been to, obviously).

    MOUNT EVEREST! Now that sounds great.

    But "sucky Maelstrom ride?" I think not!

    What are you, the King of Norway??

    My girls find it terribly exciting and Mom and Dad find it a nice, cool, dark place to relax for a few minutes.

    It is true that it's a welcome sit-down ride, which if you start from right-to-left, comes at the very end of your visit.

    But those "Norwegians" they have working the rides are nothing more than really blond Americans, okay!

    I'm not stupid here.

    I know when the rug is being pulled over my eyes.

    That and it's still all you can eat over in Germany so how bad can things be?

    Oh really? Dad doesn't like to eat at Epcot, because it's very expensive. :)

    (We went to the Italian restaurants, and paid almost 200 dollars for a party of 3 once -- with wine, but still)

    Anyway, you went to the King Tut thingy and not Epcot. Nice.

    I tried my best, Pete! I don't see you posting travellogues of Okie-Fanokies, although I'd be the first to read it!

    You also mentioned a Titanic exhibit coming. If it's the same one that came through here in Oklahoma City, you'll love it.

    Oh excellent. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. :)

    Thanks for the travelogue.

    No problem, I GUESS.

    ("Sucky Maelstrom ride." Harrummph.)

    Oh get over it, you big nerf ball.

    P.S.: Mwah!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 22, 01:40:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Excellent, now I don't have to drive to the MOAFL and wait in line to see it!!!

    Well, Jose, far be it for me to tell anyone what they should do (unless it's my future husband, obviously), but if I were you, I'd let the family read my post, and skip the exhibition.

    It's worth $15, maybe maybe $20, but not $30. No way.

    And parking is a puta.

    You did a wonderful job describing the experience; and you even risked incarceration so us Sundries fans could get our own glimpse!

    Ooh, nice semi-colon usage there, Jose.

    And yes, I did risk incarceration for ya'll, so perhaps some cafecito is in order!

    Gracias Victoria!

    De nada, querido.

    Fue un placer traerte estas fotos de la mumia mas mumia que ese pendejo que esta en la carcel!

    (I can't wait until Paul Babelfishes that)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 22, 01:46:00 pm GMT-5  

  • De nada, querido.

    Fue un placer traerte estas fotos de la mumia mas mumia que ese pendejo que esta en la carcel!


    Anything for you, Dear Victoria. Both Babelfish and Google turn out the same incongruent translation:

    You are welcome, wanted. Traerte was a pleasure these photos of mumia but mumia that that asshole that this in carcel!

    How am I ever going to learn Spanish OR if that is a correct translation, no wonder I'm always freakin' lost!

    Moving on, thank you, Victoria for the glorious tour and for standing in line for so long, reading people, not pamphlets. You always have your blog and it's readers in mind wherever you go, even when being almost stung in a sting.
    I was quite alarmed to hear of the robbery in Wash., and so happy you are still taking illicit pictures. I particularly like the foot of the mummy encasement and the end gift shop. Those are the things that you return home with as gifts. People love them! Or so I think.

    The translation; Mumia and asshole go perfectly well as he rots in a prison awaiting his own mummification, if he wishes.
    But otherwise? I don't know what in the heck you said to Jose.

    By Blogger Paul, at Wed Feb 22, 02:51:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria,

    Yowch! I'm gonna need some ice for that burn!

    As soon as I figure out how to make my posts as purty as yours, I'll put up a travelogue and make you long for the wide open spaces of Oklahoma. Count on it.

    Oh, and mwah right back atcha', m'dear. You made my day.

    By Blogger Pete, at Wed Feb 22, 08:14:00 pm GMT-5  

  • There are some people who are Broward County people...and some who are Dade County people -- and I am definitely part of the latter.

    I am so with you on the above comment Victoria!!! Broward is so "white bread" and Miami is so "pan cubano".

    I LOVE YOU MIAMI!!!!!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Thu Feb 23, 01:13:00 am GMT-5  

  • I do enjoy your travel pics, Victoria. The commentary is priceless! Having seen many a retired woman in her 80s, adorned in Raggedy Anne cheek blush and Kewpie Doll lipstick, the gal you described is ho-hum! LOL

    The black folks, well...ignorance of history is a part and parcel of America today. All of Africa is not black. Egyptians are possibly semitic, if not only partly black. But the black Americans can't have that. It must be all or racism. What a sad way to raise one's children.

    I'd rather learn about George Washington Carver, or Booker T. Washington, than try to dig up some heroic exploits from 3000 years ago.

    Is Egyptian Slavery a better sort than American Slavery? Hmmmm.....

    More pics, Toots!

    PS: I ranted again! I swore I wouldn't since the last time when I said naughty things. Sorry. :(

    By Blogger benning, at Thu Feb 23, 03:29:00 pm GMT-5  

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