Albuquerque - The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is pleased to announce the November 18, 2007 opening of Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum. This exciting exhibition of 85 magnificent objects selected from one of the foremost collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world 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 a rare opportunity to view renowned Egyptian masterworks and lesser-known treasures before their final return to the British Museum.

Included in the exhibition is sculpture, relief, 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. Selected by Edna R. Russmann, Curator of Egyptian, Classical and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Temples and Tombs explores four distinct themes: the king and the temple; objects from the lives of artists and nobles; 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.

Featuring numerous exceptional examples of royal representation, the first 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 second section of the exhibition 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.

Temples and Tombs also 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.

In her contribution to the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, Guest Curator Edna R. Russmann explains, “The Egyptians were passionate in their love of life. It inspired in them an equally strong determination to make life last forever, a goal they pursued with extraordinary intensity and ingenuity. It seems ironic that we should be the accidental beneficiaries of their quest for eternal life. We are extremely fortunate that this quest extended to surrounding themselves in death with objects from life in tombs and temple caches.”

Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum is organized by the American Federation of Arts and The British Museum. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation fund for Collection-Based Exhibitions at the American Federation of Arts.  In Albuquerque, support for this exhibition has been provided by the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.

Select Exhibition Events:

·        An Egyptian Festival opens the exhibition from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on Sunday, November 18 with storytelling, music, dance, acrobatics and more!

·        Emily Teeter, Egyptologist and Research Associate with the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, will speak on Sunday, December 9 at 2:00 pm. Teeter’s current research is on the practical aspects of temples and funerary objects.

·        Sunday, January 5 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm is Family Day. Experience Egypt through fun-filled activities and performances.

·        The Albuquerque Museum will be open Friday nights until 8:00 pm throughout the exhibition! Every second Friday of December (the 14th), January (the 11th) and February (the 8th) will be FRIDAYS WITH THE PHARAOHS with programs exploring the mystery, beauty and magic of Egyptian art and culture.

·        Adult Night: Divas of Egypt, January 11, 2008, a Fridays with the Pharaohs event featuring Dr. Kathlyn Cooney, Research Associate at The Getty Research Institute. Dr. Cooney recently appeared as a guest Egyptologist in the Discovery Channel “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen” about the discovery of Hatshepsut’s mummy.

·        An audio tour produced by Acoustiguide will be available for the exhibition at a cost of $3. Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art from The British Museum is free with general admission to the Museum.


Press Events:

Lion Media Event: See the unveiling of the Soleb lion, the largest sculpture in the exhibition, Thursday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. Meet Marcel Maree, Egyptologist with The British Museum. Contact: Connor O’Laughlin 243-7255

Preview Media Event: Preview the exhibition, Friday, November 16, 10:00 a.m. Contact: Connor O’Laughlin 243-7255

Press Info: Publicity images may be downloaded from the AFA web site at  If asked, login “afapress”, password “photos.”