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Ramses the Great in residence at the Australian Museum

There’s still time to see the milestone exhibition, Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs – the display of Egyptian riches runs until 19 May.

Ramses the Great in residence at the Australian Museum

Showcasing 182 objects direct from Egypt, Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs opened in November 2023. Such is the appetite for this part of the ancient world that crowds continue to fill the Australian Museum, with the exhibition set to remain open well into May 2024.

Exhibition design has involved collaborative work from the team at the Australian Museum alongside some significant individuals working on the ground in Egypt. Dr Mostafa Waziry (pictured below) is an Egyptian archaeologist, Egyptologist and Secretary-General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. He has worked at archaeological sites in Giza and Upper Egypt, and was on hand in Sydney to open the exhibition.

“It was once thought that the mummy of Ramses II had been lost forever,” explains Dr Waziry. “But in 1881, a member of Egypt’s Department of Antiquities announced it had been found […] The treasure trove included jewellery in gold and silver, amulets, pottery, stone sculptures, limestone paintings, wooden coffins and many more beautifully decorated artefacts designed thousands of years ago.

“Each tells the story of the splendour of ancient Egypt: the history of a kingdom whose contribution to art, economics, politics, language and culture are without compare. It is the story of Egypt’s greatest pharaoh and those pharaohs who came before and after him. Why not join us in our discoveries? Modern Egypt is proud to share its history in Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs.”

Mirroring the fascination with Ancient Rome and Greece, almost all architects and interior designers will at some point have found themselves engrossed by a building or object from Egypt. The exhibition brings 3000 years of history excluslively to the Australian Museum.

Culminating with the coffin of Ramses II, the exhibition displays a wide range of objects including jewellery, mummified animals, statues and paintings – all certain to inspire the sculpturally inclined. In terms of exhibition design, visitors pass through a series of rooms after pausing in the entrance for a video introduction. It’s certainly not an open-plan design, but crafts particular moments of delight such as an escalator descent leading to a face-to-face encounter with a statue.

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Dr Zahi Hawass is the curator of the exhibition, a renowned archaeologist and former Minister of Antiquities. He notes that one of the best things about Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs is that it reveals the world Ramses took over when he became pharaoh: “Our modern world is so different from Ancient Egypt. With this exhibition visitors will be immersed in the world of Ramses and discover a completely different way of life.”

Dr Hawass continues: “Works of art – statues, jewellery, carvings – made by Ancient Egyptians were intended to honour and immortalise revered pharaohs. These are just a few of the exquisite items included in the exhibition. This is a rare opportunity for Australian audiences to discover the unique craftsmanship and sophistication of objects and artworks dating from within the Bronze Age of 3000 BCE to the Classical Age first-century CE.”

Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, also adds: “With many priceless treasures from the ancient tombs and pyramids, Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs will entrance audiences with interactive, multimedia elements and a thrilling VR experience that takes visitors right inside his tomb. This is a truly immersive exhibition that puts one of history’s most legendary figures into context with dynamic, modern storytelling.”

Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs is set to run at the Australian Museum, Sydney until 19 May, 2024.

Australian Museum

James Alcock

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