A road trip to first Atlantic City and then Philadelphia this weekend provided the opportunity to see the new King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute. Eight million Americans saw the original traveling Tut exhibit in the 1970s; it was a legitimate cultural phenomenon that spawned Steve Martin’s classic King Tut routine. The current collection is no less breathtaking. The exhibition includes approximately 130 objects from the tomb of King Tut and his immediate predecessors, with the division about 50/50. Most of the items were not part the 1970s tour. It takes about 60-90 minutes to go through the whole thing. The collection has jars for perfume and spices, containers for the organs of the deceased, religious talismans (the religion aspect of the tour was fascinating), tools for use in the afterlife, games, exquisite staffs, chairs, crowns, and other indicators of wealth and power, and of course, mummies. My personal favorites were the golden dagger that was entombed with King Tut at his side and the necklace that was on his chest. I was slightly disappointed that Tut’s golden death mask was not on display, but the item is not allowed to leave Egypt.
Nevertheless, I recommend seeing the exhibit before it leaves Philadelphia (and the United States) at the end of September. Entry is time-slotted, so you’ll need to buy tickets in advance. I don’t know how well the exhibit did in other cities, but Philadelphia seems to have embraced it. The Franklin Institute was packed for our 8pm time slot on Saturday, and the Philly Phanatic had a King Tut-themed birthday party at the ballpark today. Also, Jamie Moyer, who pitched with King Tut in the minors, took a no-hitter into the 7th.