By Olivia Wynkoop. Bay City News.
He is considered the pharaoh of pharaohs, known for his ruthless military might, his unprecedented building campaign and his leadership that brought ancient Egypt to its famous golden age: Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great and the dazzling treasures and artifacts that surrounded his life are on display in San Francisco.
Until February 2023, the deYoung museum will host an international traveling exhibition combining ancient artifacts with state-of-the-art technology, entitled "Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs."
The only museum on the West Coast to present the collection before it returns to museums in Egypt, it probably won't travel again for decades, said Thomas Campbell, director and executive director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
"With the many travel fiascos we've all been reading about lately, it's a pleasure to skip the plane ride and transport yourself to Egypt, right here in the museum, and indeed, even to the feel of ancient Egyptian tombs," Campbell said at a press conference Thursday.
Visitors can parade through a treasure trove of sarcophagi, masks, ornate tomb treasures and mummified animals, while immersing themselves in the highlights of Ramses' life, such as his monumental victory at the Battle of Kadesh, through immersive multimedia displays.
Not only known for his impressive leadership, Ramses also lived for an impressive amount of time: he is said to have died around the age of 90 in an era when most were lucky if they lived into their 30s or 40s.
The exhibition features objects from various royal tombs throughout Egypt to paint a picture of what must have been contained in Ramses' tomb, noted Renee Dreyfus, curator of ancient art.
"In the six decades of his reign, the Egyptian empire flourished, prospered and Ramses secured and expanded the borders of the country," Dreyfus said.
One of the exhibit organizers, John Norman, executive director of the World Heritage Exhibition, said the team wanted to combine various presentation techniques to provide a special and entertaining experience that is more of a story than a history lecture.
There are cinematic videos, theatrical lighting, automatic show controls and even music composed especially for each gallery, he said.
"These are elements you don't normally see in an art museum," Norman stressed.
And for an additional fee, museum visitors can also enter a virtual reality tour, guided by the spirit of Ramses' beloved wife, Nefertari. On the virtual tour, the queen floats through Ramses' iconic temple, Abu Simbel, as well as an animated version of her tomb.
"In an era of so many immersive experiences, there's a lot of garbage out there. This is truly an immersive experience that engages all the senses, but with real power," Campbell said.
The exhibit will be open from August 20 through February 12, 2023. Tickets are $35 on weekdays or $40 on weekends for adults.
More information on discounted rates for children, seniors and students can be found at deyoungmuseum.org.
Part of the ticket sales will go to efforts to preserve and excavate ancient artifacts in Egypt, said Egyptian archaeologist and exhibition curator Zahi Hawas, who is also spearheading efforts to restore the tomb of Ramses.
"I really enjoy seeing this exhibit. The technology, the lighting, the beauty, the art...it's a message from us in Egypt that we are safe and come and visit," Hawas said.
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