Without displaying any physical artifacts, the “Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience” exhibition uses modern technology to tell an ancient story and takes guests on a trip into the Egyptian afterlife.
“This is a celebration and a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, which a lot of people say is the most significant archaeological discovery of all time,” said Mark Lach, creative producer of the exhibition a projection-driven project on display now through Feb. 26, 2023 at the Magic Box in Los Angeles.
“The artifacts have traveled the world, but the actual artifacts have gone back to Egypt,” Lach explained while sitting outside the exhibition space last week. “So without the artifacts, how do we bring it to life? Well, through the archives of National Geographic, their photos, their film library, their research, we put together something spectacular in a projection form.”
Developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the exhibition uses 52 projectors to display photographs and other multimedia images on walls, floors and screens. It also incorporates a variety of sounds to take visitors on a cinematic trip back in time to mark the anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings on Nov. 4, 1922.
The exploration into the life of the boy king, who lived more than 3,000 years ago, begins in a small theater where guests will see a short film about King Tut. From there, a wall opens to what Lach refers to as “the maze,” which is a series of corridors made up of gray walls marked with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
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As ambient sounds play in the background, visitors will first see black and white images on the walls of the discovery of the tomb, which was uncovered by Egyptologist Howard Carter and his team. The photos projected onto screens include the various treasures discovered, like statues and gold jewelry.
Those who pay close attention will hear what sounds like crumbing stone and falling sand. There are large cracks in the walls of this maze and as the digitally projected sand falls away, treasures are revealed inside the tomb in full color. This is meant to mirror what Carter must have seen as he explored deeper and deeper into the tomb.
“I think if somehow we can communicate the sense of excitement and discovery that Howard Carter felt to our guests, then I think we’ve done our job,” Lach said. “When he poked through the wall for the first time and someone asked him if he could see anything he said ‘Yes, wonderful things.’”
After walking through several halls of the maze, visitors will find Carter’s ultimate discovery: the King Tut’s burial chamber.
It’s an image of the gold tomb, digitally projected upon a table with celestial images in the background. Each of the walls in the tomb room are covered by screens, displaying moving images meant to recreate the painted walls within the burial chamber.
Other rooms in the exhibition display projected photos from National Geographic’s archives of various Egyptian artifacts onto LED screens, while another space explores how Egyptians mummified their kings.
Perhaps the most immersive gallery in this space is a room dubbed “The Afterlife.”
Huge screens line all the walls of the ballroom-sized space, showing both abstract and animated images to depict King Tut’s journey into the afterlife, where he has to fight creatures like giant snakes and pass other tests before reaching his eternal rest.
In the middle of the room sits a 30-foot-long replica of an ancient boat that Egyptians believed carried them through their journey to the afterlife. At times, blue light effects meant to resemble water run around the boat and through the floor of the room while a narrator speaks as the voice of King Tut.
“I hope people have that same excitement and sense of discovery Howard Carter had when he made this amazing discovery 100 years ago,” Lach said.
“Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience”
When: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday through February 26
Where: Magic Box LA, 1933 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
Tickets: Tickets start at $37.50 for general admission and $26 for children ages -15 at beyondkingtut.com.