Sunday, January 24, 2010

Daddy Daycare goes to see Tut

I started off 2010 with a full week of Daddy Daycare. My daughter and I took walks in the park, a trip to Half Moon Bay, and a visit to the de Young museum to see the King Tut exhibit.

The exhibit was a lofty $27.50 per adult, and, only after buying my ticket did the salesman tell me that strollers were not allowed in. This meant that I had to carry my daughter throughout the exhibit, which he moments prior encouraged us to take our time with and to view each artifact from many different angles in order to truly appreciate what we were seeing. So this was perhaps not the most family-friendly exhibit.

There were other disappointments about the exhibit, as well -- the biggest of which was the anticlimactic final room. The last halls are designed to reflect the four rooms that made up Tutankhamun's tomb. When you get to the final room, you expect to see the casket of Tut himself, or at least a healthy collection of artifacts from his chamber. Instead, you only get a smattering of items and a video projection of Tut's casket. Then, you realize that the images of the casket used in the marketing materials are actually ones of King Tut's ancestors, which you did see in an earlier room. And you also realize that if this was all that the museum was able to get, that the other items in his chamber must either have been really expensive, or simply under laser, lock and key in Egypt somewhere, not to be moved for any old traveling exhibit.

That said, part of the reason that the final room was anticlimactic was that the exhibit does a terrific job building up to the final room. Midway through the exhibit, I had long forgotten the stroller situation. The artifacts were in pristine condition, their arrangement logical and narrative, and the descriptions sufficiently detailed so that you really are drawn into a different time and place.

One of my favorites was a wooden hand-held board/box game that was not much larger than an iPhone or a Nexus One. But you could really imagine a young Tut playing with the intricate pieces to pass time, just as he would play a mobile game today. I do wish that the instructions for the game were included in the description, but they weren't. If I had more time, I might have studied the game a little while longer to see if I could guess at what the game mechanics were like.

I also was impressed by the coffinette for Tut's viscera. You may have seen this in other marketing promotions (and mistaken this for Tut's coffin). But the miniature coffin was partially so intriguing because of its small size and amazing detail. That was definitely worth a look from all angles. The wooden bust of Tut was interesting, as well. You wonder to what extent it reflected his real likeness. Finally, the sheer ritual of amassing such a collection to accompany someone into the after life was fairly thought-provoking as well -- I'm sure there's a song in there some where.  So, overall, I do think the exhibit was worth seeing and I would recommend it.

Now, will my daughter remember anything that she saw in the exhibit? While she did stay awake through the whole thing, she seemed to enjoy looking up at the tall ceilings and the lighting more than the ancient artifacts!