From Nov. 15, 2019 to March 29, 2020, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City will showcase a new exhibit called “Queen Nefertari: Eternal Egypt.” The exhibit consists of 230 works of art relating to both royal and everyday life in ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom, as well as the complex religious rites and traditions associated with the afterlife and the role of women in Egyptian society. The cost of attendance is $18 per person.
Queen Nefertari was the favorite wife of Ramses II, or Ramses the Great, who ruled from 1279 to 1213 B.C. Ramses referred to her as “the one for whom the sun shines.” She was an extremely influential woman and in fact served as a diplomat under Ramses. When Queen Nefertari died in approximately 1255 B.C., a colossal temple was built in her honor at Abu Sinel. Her tomb in the Valley of the Queens is extremely elaborate – its walls are decorated with paintings of things like animals, gods and goddesses.
Queen Nefertari’s tomb was discovered in 1904 by an Italian expedition led by Ernesto Schiaparelli, then director of the Museo Egizio in Italy. In fact, the Museo Egizio has partnered with the Nelson Atkins in order to bring this exhibition about. Like many other Egyptian tombs, Queen Nefertari’s tomb had been plundered by grave robbers, so many of the objects buried with her have been lost. Nonetheless, the tomb provided a wealth of information for Egyptologists. The exhibition at the Nelson Atkins will feature artifacts recovered at Nefertari’s tomb and the remains of Nefertari herself. Unfortunately, Nefertari’s mummified remains have been lost except for her kneecaps and legs. These underwent a CT scan at a Kansas City hospital before coming to the Nelson Atkins museum.
Furthermore, a historic wooden model of Queen Nefertari’s tomb will be exhibited, and replicas of the tomb’s painting will also be featured. Other objects will exhibit the day-to-day life of craftsmen at the village of Deir-el Medina. These craftsmen worked on the royal tombs, including Queen Nefertari’s. A monumental granite sculpture of Ramses II between Amun, the sun god, and Amun’s wife, Mut, will also be showcased. Finally, the video game company Ubisoft has created a video simulation of life in ancient Egypt.
The Nelson Atkins is also hosting a variety of additional events to accompany the exhibit. For example, Dr. Christian Greco, director of the Museo Egizio, will give a talk about the Italian museum’s important Egyptian collection and the scientific research that accompanies it Nov. 14. A presentation on how climate change negatively affects cultural heritage, which includes Egyptian monuments and tombs, will be given Dec. 5. On January 30, the Nelson Atkins is hosting an “Ask an Egyptologist” event. Finally, a discussion about women and power in Egyptian society will take place March 5. These events are free, but tickets must be requested in advance through the Nelson Atkins website.