Exhibit without a King


When a museum advertises a famous artifact on large posters everywhere in the city, that usually suggests they actually have said artifact on display. Usually. I am probably not the first person to make the foolish mistake of believing this.

I bought the tickets in advance for the special exhibit- it’s final stop on the world tour before returning to Egypt. The ONLY stop in Australia. “One of the greatest tour exhibits in history”. Melbourne is a buzz with this nearly sold out show and the legendary Pharoah’s black and gold tomb is everywhere. Everywhere that is, except at the museum.

I should have questioned it when we walked past the cast replica of the boy king’s wrinkled remains with a sign that read ‘his body has never been removed from it’s tomb and it never will be’. But the suggestion- the cast replica of his BODY- hinted to me that only the mummy itself had not made the exhibit cut. I still had full intention of seeing the outer casing- at least one of them, if not a few. Not seeing a wrinkled and preserved body from 1300 BC… I was okay with that. What I wanted to see was the mask the mummy was encased in. The famous one. The one in all the posters plastered around town, outside the museum, and even on our tickets. ‘the greatest tour exhibit in history’. Oh yes. Without a doubt.

I was so drunk with the idea of seeing the show’s star that I kindly ignored the Disney-style entrance: a fake Egyptian backdrop with a photographer snapping shots of each guest for later purchase in the gift shop.. A low move for any respectable museum. I wandered for two hours through the first nine rooms reading about every piece of jewelry, every artifact, and photograph. The final room ahead, the build up… And then… Nothing.

The final room. A light projecting images of each of the many layers of the mummy onto an elevated plaster box in the center of the room. No famous mask. Just a light display. To further the disappointment, the room opened up to the gift shop, where more photos of the famous mummy could be purchased on neck ties, shot glasses, and key chains. One could even purchase a hat resembling the mask that no one got to see in the exhibit. Buzz kill. Should I argue false advertising?


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