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Event Spotlight: Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, an exhibition celebrating the pharaoh

Tutankhamen — also known as King Tut, the boy king, and the living image of Aten — became the ruler of Egypt in 1333 B.C., when he was only nine years old. His reign, however, lasted only a decade; the young pharaoh passed at the age of nineteen, and though there is much speculation about the cause of his death, we still don’t know whether foul play, disease, or an accident contributed to his demise. What we do know is that the discovery of his tomb forever changed how we understand the history, traditions, and sacred rituals of one of the greatest empires of the ancient world.

The people were reintroduced to Tutankhamen in 1922, when his tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings by British archeologist Howard Carter (1874 - 1939) after eight years of digging in the Egyptian sands. It was the first imperial burial site to be discovered intact, safe from the scavengers, grave robbers, and looters who have combed the deserts for millenia looking for treasures and wealth. And so Carter found thousands of artifacts, including a sarcophagus containing Tut’s mummy, all of which were cataloged by his team for the next ten years. Since then, a century has passed, but new details about the boy king are still emerging to this day.

To celebrate the hundred years since the monumental find, Paquin Entertainment Group and Immersive partnered with the National Geographic Society — which has been chronicling the developing story since it first broke — to create Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, an incredible exhibition celebrating the life and afterlife of the infamous pharaoh. Under the creative direction of Montreal’s world-renowned Normal Studio, the exhibit relies on projection mapping and new technologies to create enveloping visual environments that invite visitors to travel back in time to an ancient and storied land, like they have never been able to do before.

“Visitors will meet Ancient Egyptian gods like Ra and Anubis, descend into King Tut’s burial chamber, join his quest for immortality and relive the discovery of the king’s tomb with all his treasures waiting inside, reclaimed from the desert sand after 3,000 years. With nine galleries to explore on the multi-sensory, multimedia journey, guests will wind through the story of a young boy whose name still looms large and how he changed the ancient – and modern – world. This exhibition goes beyond a traditional artifact display using the power of photography and technology, ensuring that the artifacts from King Tut’s tomb remain in their country of origin.”

One fascinating and unusual component of the exhibition involves an eight-minute, award-winning virtual reality (VR) tour called Tutankhamun: Enter the Tomb. Those who opt for it will be able to fly through the underground royal chambers and see the treasures as they were when they were discovered in November 1922. Created by CityLights and voiced by English actor Hugh Bonneville, the journey allows visitors to enter the tomb of the boy king and get a sense of the care and urgency with which his burial was handled. Indeed, Tut’s sudden death meant that his tomb had to be completed in a rush, evidence of which is apparent on the walls.

From toys and games to his most vital and necessary accessories, the exhibition provides an undated look into the ongoing research about the world’s most famous teenage king. I was privileged to catch it in New York City, but interested parties can still attend the interactive event in Washington D.C., at the National Geographic Museum, until February 6th of this year.

Note* All of the images are provided by King Tut Immersive Show, New York


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