top of page

Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi

Tutankhamun has landed at the Saatchi Gallery and is worth every penny of the rather hefty price tag (£27).

I was half expecting a full on Disney experience, pop archaeology at its finest and wasn’t too sure if I wanted to see these incredible objects, with whose names and images I am so familiar as a result of my time in the British Museum, to be seen in such a light. But it totally worked.

Things that stick out are the graceful, refined yet dazzling golden figures carved in the round (as opposed to the more usual way of depicting figures from that time; in profile with faces usually facing to the right), the translucent alabaster and calcite vases which shimmered in their cases, the wooden cases shaped like loaves and other edibles made to hold the food Tutankhamun would need in the afterlife, the amulets for protection, the iridescent jewellery and shabti dolls, which were small figurines that would be workers required in the afterlife. I imagine what it must have been like for Howard Carter and his financier Lord Carnarvon when they opened up this undisturbed tomb of the this boy Pharaoh back in 1922 and saw for the first time these ‘wondrous things’ as Carnarvon is said to have uttered.

And all the more mind blowing when you think that these objects were created 3500 years ago, at the height of the Golden Age when Egypt was by far the most dominant country in the world.

Whilst this may be the last chance to see these wonderful objects before they move to their new permanent home at the new Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, you can see excellent copies at Highclere Castle, better known to many as Downton Abbey. Highclere is the ancestral home of Lord Carnarvon and whose family had to sell the originals when he died to pay for death duties, a constant issue for stately homes in the UK. However, there are still some smaller objects that remain.

bottom of page