I recently had the pleasure of joining the Press Circuit on Friday, March 4, for a sneak peek preview of “The Discovery of King Tut”, the new exhibit at the Putnam Museum & Science Center. The exposition covers Howard Carter’s exploration into King Tut’s tomb that he entered into in 1922 and what he found inside.
The day before the opening there was a group of about 30 members of the press gathered to witness the official “ribbon cutting” and introduction to the exhibit. Instead of a traditional ceremony, though, they broke down a replica of the tomb wall before we went in, pictured below. Everything in the installation is a recreation, as the original objects of the tomb are no longer legally allowed to the leave the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The first portion of the exhibit is equipped with an Audio Visual Guide, a device that looks like a remote control with a speaker on it. It provides you with different information about the initial discovery and the three chambers of the tomb you will explore on your journey.
The rest of the visit was self-guided. It contains a replica of the tomb, all the treasures inside, and how it was all organized and put together. The burial chamber itself was like a Russian Nesting Doll, there were four golden shrines surrounding the sarcophagus; seeing it all laid out in the display helped me visually understand the complexity of the relic.
There are over 1,000 recreations on display, from jewelry to art to musical instruments, it is amazing to think about how this tomb was created to never be found, and all for a king who died when he was just 19 years old. King Tut is now the most famous Egyptian King, not because of his reign or his dazzling personality, but because his tomb was the most intact one ever found.
The layout of the exhibit spans over 14,800 square feet; twice as big as any other exhibit the Putnam has ever had. This is the first time since 1963 that the Asian Gallery was dismantled in order to make room for another display. As you walk through the museum, up and down different staircases, through shadowed corners, there is a sense of discovery to the experience.
During the visit, Kim Findley, President/CEO, told a great story that I find fascinating. The Palmer family of the Quad Cities provided the mummies that our community has at the Putnam. Three members of the family, in fact, entered inside King Tut’s tomb not long after it was discovered; apparently it was quite the social accomplishment to do so in their day. On that particular trip to Egypt, the Palmer family acquired one of the mummies that remains in our community’s collection today. I love that our Quad Cities has a connection to the tomb of King Tut, it adds to the enjoyment of the exhibit, a sense of local pride.
“The Discovery of King Tut” will show through September at the Putnam Museum & Science Center, located at 1717 W. 12th Street in Davenport, Iowa. The Putnam Museum is open Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday Noon – 5 p.m, General admission tickets are $19 for adults; $17 for seniors, military and college students with ID; and $15 for youth ages 3-18.