A long, long time ago in a land far, far away, there lived a boy king named Tutankhamun. Where there are kings, there is treasure, and now the treasure of King Tut has come to Seattle.
When you live in a city where the major landmark is currently celebrating its 50th birthday, it can be hard to instill in your children a sense of the breadth and depth of ancient history. The King Tut exhibit is a great introduction to the ancient civilization of Egypt. Pacific Science Center is the last stop on the North American tour, so you don't want to miss it.
The history of King Tut and his treasure is presented on multiple levels. Each item is carefully displayed and has a description of its original use and purpose. The displays also include items from other eras in order to place King Tut within the scope of the Egyptian empire. The entire collection is presented as part of recent history as the discovery of the tomb and its contents is recounted. Finally, the history of the scientific study of the objects reveals how we have continued to learn about the ancient Egyptians as our methods and technology of investigation improve.
Over 100 items are on exhibit, organized by National Geographic and Arts & Exhibitions International, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. From the smallest of jewelry to 10-foot statues, the exhibit is a cross section of Egyptian civilization. While I appreciated the selection, I found myself constantly answering my daughter's question of whether or not something was from King Tut's tomb. By the end of the exhibit, she could identify his distinctive image, but she always seemed disappointed if an object had not belonged to him. The one exception was the sarcophagus for the cat of Thutmose. Once she learned that all Egyptians revered cats, she was back on board to admire the objects in the exhibit.
Despite it being a small collection, the variety is impressive. Whether your interest is in everyday objects, such as beds and shoes, or royal jewelry, funerary objects or giant representational statues, this exhibit has something for you. The upside of the exhibit being small is that the size also makes it manageable. Don't be afraid to linger at a piece that really interests you or take the time to read all of the additional information provided.
There is not a printed guide to the rooms of the exhibit, so it is hard to gage how far along you are. Luckily, there are staff in every room, so I would encourage visiting parents to ask. When viewing an exhibit like this with kids, knowing how much more is coming is vital information in order to set an appropriate pace. For my kids, some of the most interesting parts were at the end, so budgeting enough time for the end is important.
We were most surprised to find an additional area past the gift shop. This area followed the path of scientists as they studied the mummy of King Tut since the discovery of the tomb. This was my 11-year-old son's favorite part. The mixing of modern science with ancient mummies is "way cool" according to him. Also, the vending machines that will print your very own personalized cartouche were a big hit. So be sure to bring some nice, flat, wrinkle-free dollar bills.
I would be remiss if I said this exhibit is for everyone. It's not, but there are ways to increase the likelihood that your child will enjoy it. For starters, the IMAX film is a great way to introduce the exhibit. The film we saw, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, was incredible and only 40 minutes long. Without giving away any information on the specifics of the items in the exhibit, it told the story of how the tomb was discovered.
By starting with the film, the kids were excited to see items from that discovery. If the timing of your visit doesn't allow for the viewing of the IMAX film, then a quick trip to the library could be valuable. If you are lucky enough to be the parent of a 6th grader, you may have your own tour guide at home. With the state curriculum covering ancient civilizations in that grade, this exhibit is a must-see for them. While the Science Center does not provide age recommendations, I think that being a strong, independent reader is a good base point.
There are audio guides available for $6. Some families really enjoy using these. For me, I find it isolating and prefer to be able to chat with and listen to my kids while we experience the exhibit together. Another point to remember is that there are no restrooms inside the exhibit. Your ticket will be a timed entry, so hit the restroom before you enter.
If concessions for the IMAX are a must for your kids, allow time to either walk over to the larger IMAX theater that has a full concession booth or bring cash for the small tented concession booth outside the IMAX showing the Egyptian movies. Don't forget, no food or drink is allowed inside the exhibit, so only buy what you will eat or drink during the movie.
Finally, don't forget the tickets to the special exhibits include admission to the permanent exhibits at Pacific Science Center. So if you have time, make a day of it and let the kids go explore where they are not only allowed but encouraged to touch everything.
Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based in Lake Forest Park. She is "Mummy" to two of her own treasures, ages 11 and 8.
IF YOU GO
Where: Pacific Science Center, 200 2nd Ave. N., Seattle.
When: Now through Jan. 6, 2013.
Cost: Monday through Thursday: adults $27.50, seniors/students $24.50, youth (ages 6-15) $16.50, child (ages 3-5) $15.50, kids younger than 3 are free; Friday through Sunday and holidays: adults $32.50, seniors/students $29.50, youth $21.50, child $20.50. Add IMAX for $4 and audio guides for $6. Discounts are available for members and groups of 10 or more (reservations required).
Contact: 1-800-664-8775 or www.pacificsciencecenter.org/King-Tut/king-tut-the-exhibition.
Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based in Lake Forest Park. She is “Mummy” to two of her own treasures, ages 11 and 8.