My trip to the United States coincided with the private view of the Met’s new exhibition Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom. The exhibition features objects from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, one of the collections I manage at University College London (UCL) . It was nice to see Petrie objects presented so beautifully.
The exhibition chronicles the re-birth of Egyptian culture in the Middle Kingdom period (2030-1650 B.C.) after the reunification of Egypt under a single pharaoh. The 230 objects in the exhibition reflect the artistic, cultural, religious, and political traditions first conceived and instituted during the Old Kingdom that were revived and developed.
Anybody with a passing interest in Egypt will enjoy this exhibition as it contains some visually arresting objects. The Met is clearly interested and committed to keeping our understanding and fascination with Egypt alive – you learn in the exhibition that the Met is involved in three ongoing excavations in Egypt. Furthermore, just three years ago it put on a blockbuster exhibition on early Egyptian art called The Dawn of Egyptian Art (to which the Petrie lent several objects). It is this depth of expertise and absorption with ancient that might explain the narrative structure of the exhibition. In short, it is not easy for a layman to follow – it is a show for Egypt enthusiasts. For those who are new to the subject, I would suggest focusing on the items that catch your eye and reading the very informative object labels. Given the size of the exhibition, that’s all anyone can really do anyway.