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Media Release

Published: 01/09/2007

Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History - November 18, 2007 - February 10, 2008

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum opens at The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History on Sunday, November 18, 2007.

Organized by The British Museum and the American Federation of Arts, this exciting exhibition of approximately 85 magnificent objects spans the full range of pharaonic history — from shortly before the Third Dynasty, about 2686 B.C., to the Roman occupation of the fourth century A.D. — and provides museum visitors in Albuquerque a rare opportunity to view renowned Egyptian masterworks and lesser-known treasures before their final return to The British Museum.

The exhibition features sculptures, reliefs, papyri, ostraca, jewelry, cosmetic objects, and funerary items in a variety of media – including stone, wood, terra cotta, gold, glass, and papyrus — that reflect the richness and scope of The British Museum’s exceptional collection.

Temples and Tombs explores four distinct themes: objects from the lives of artists and nobles; the king and the temple; statues of Egyptians from temples and tombs; and the tomb, death, and the afterlife. The four thematic divisions of the exhibition allow for a specific examination of these masterworks in the context of the Egyptian temporal and cosmic world view.

Don’t miss this impressive exhibition at The Albuquerque Museum opening on November 18, 2007. 

The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History
2000 Mountain Road NW
Museum admission:  $4 Adults ($1 discount to NM residents w/ ID),
$2 Seniors (65+), $1 Children 4-12. Children 3 and under are free.
General admission is free the first Wednesday of the month and every Sunday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The Albuquerque Museum is a division of the Cultural Services Department of the City of Albuquerque. 
Martin J. Chávez, Mayor.

Temples and Tombs:
Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum
The Exhibition in Detail

The first section of Temples and Tombs is devoted to objects used by artists and nobles, offering an insightful look into Egyptian daily life. Among the included items are objects of decoration and protection, such as amulets, jewelry, and cosmetic containers. Statues and paintings of figures portray the Egyptians’ enjoyment of jewelry; their hairstyles, makeup, and clothing; their household furniture; and the company they kept, including servants and family. Other items, such as a scribal palette, drawing board, and inked grid, provide information about artisans’ working lives. Hieroglyphic writing on many of the objects demonstrates the masterly level of graphic communication attained by the Egyptians. 

Featuring numerous exceptional examples of royal representation, the second section of the exhibition examines the role of the Egyptian king as the intermediary between the divine and human worlds.  Immediately recognizable by his garments, crown, and the oval cartouche in which his name was usually inscribed, an Egyptian king was the highest-ranking mortal and the individual best able to please the gods. This section of the exhibition also considers the function of the temple, as the central physical expression of the unique relationship between the king and the gods.  

The third section of Temples and Tombs considers the role of the private statue, in the context of both the temple and the tomb. The earliest statues of private individuals were found in tombs, as a place where the spirit of the deceased could reside. Private statues were also found in temples, representing an individual’s status, wealth, and ability to partake in cult offerings. The examples in this section allow viewers to see both the continuity and change in the representation of private art from about 2600 B.C. to the first century A.D. 

The exhibition concludes with an exploration of the Egyptian concepts of the tomb, death, and the afterlife. Seeking to extend life after death, the Egyptians made provisions in their burials for the afterlife, although only the affluent could afford the full array of tomb items and rituals intended to protect the body of the deceased and insure a successful afterlife for the soul.  Many of the bowls, palettes, headrests, ostraca, and other utilitarian objects in the exhibition are embedded with protective symbols because they were intended to accompany their owners to the tomb.  

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