Ancient Egypt brought to life at new Royal B.C. Museum exhibit

The Royal B.C. Museum has had its share of blockbuster exhibitions, and the upcoming Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs is the equal of any of them, says museum chief executive Jack Lohman. “It’s one of the greatest shows, I think, this museum has ever put on.”

The exhibition opens on Friday and continues until Dec. 31. The film Mysteries of Egypt will play at the Imax Victoria Theatre throughout the run.

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Victoria is the show’s only scheduled Canadian stop, but it has some American destinations and interest has been expressed by a museum in Sydney, Australia.

Lohman said the ancient Egyptian civilization the show depicts “marks the dawn of the human spirit” and has been unveiled through the work of generations of archeologists.

The first section of the exhibit delves into the Nile River, considered the civilization’s lifeline. Lohman said the show looks not just at those in power, but at many other facets of life in ancient Egypt.

“When you think of ancient Egypt, you think of these great pyramids, you think of the Sphinx, you think of granite obelisks — all these monuments,” Lohman said. “Well, it wasn’t practical to bring these monumental pieces here.

“But what we have done is we’ve brought 330 absolutely exquisite pieces from some of the finest archeological collections.”

The artifacts on display provide a special look at the past, Lohman said.

He said they are “vestiges of history” that cover a large time span, and there is a sense of intimacy from being so close to them.

Wafaa El Saddik, former director the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, also pointed to the varied overview of the civilization.

“It has many different aspects,” she said. “The exhibition is unique because it’s showing the life of the ancient Egyptian, not only the very famous objects of the pharaohs and the queens, but also the daily life of the ancient Egyptian — how the Nile affected this great civilization. “You have here a history of 3,500 years.”

El Saddik said the fact that many museums around the world have Egypt collections made it relatively easy to get the needed artifacts together.

Content for the exhibition comes from four key collections contained at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Germany, the Gustav Lübcke Museum in Hamm, Germany, and the University Museum of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The largest portion of the content is from the Hildesheim facility, El Saddik said.

Six pharaohs are being featured, including Hatshepsut, one of the few women who rose to the position. A 3,500-year-old, 790-kilogram sandstone bust of her is among the show’s highlights.

Also on exhibit is a 4,000-year-old wooden coffin that belonged to an official named Nakht. Museum-goers can visit a replica tomb, as well.

The show opening coincides with the annual B.C. Museums Week, a celebration of museums, art galleries and other institutions around the province.

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