Saturday, 6 June 2015

Secret Egypt – in bright lights

The last Sunday of the half-term was partly spent in the New Walk Museum where the Secret Egypt exhibition had just started. Having this exhibition in Leicester seemed a bit redundant first when one considers that there are considerable Egyptian collections in Leicester; a result of the locals funding Flinders Petrie’s explorations in Egypt. However, the Egyptian section, even if well designed and interesting, cannot really accommodate big school groups. Another matter is that it is a relatively dark place in order to preserve the mummies and objects in different perishable materials. Number One Son flatly does not go there.

In contrast the exhibition upstairs is spaciously laid out and thoughtfully put together. There are different games and activity points for children and the exhibits include also material of ancient Egypt’s effect on fashions and popular culture. You have even a copy of the Indiana Jones poster (Raiders of the Lost Ark). The collection comes from Birmingham and includes all your standards. ‘How pyramid was built?’ with a series of objects. Checked. Animal mummies. Checked. A pharaoh sculpture. Checked. A mummy. Checked. Neck rests and jewellery. Checked. One case even presents my perennial favourite, the art from Tell el-Amarna, from the short-lived court of Akhenaten. Several fragments have recognisable human figures in the unmissable Amarna style with elongated features with the pharaoh himself features on a white one.

For a regular visitor of the British Museum, it does not offer much new. However, for all the school children who will undoubtedly visit it during the summer term or at the beginning of the new school year in September will have a lot to see, learn and enjoy.

What did Number One Son think about it? Not much. He was puzzled momentarily by the mummy. ‘Is he dead?’ ‘Yes, he is very dead’. He glimpsed the animal mummies when tey were pointed out. He was amused briefly by the internal organ game by the canopies. Nevertheless, he liked the soft geometric form pieces in the largest activity area and we built together the pyramid for which there were instructions. Never underestimate the power of pyramids...

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