King Tut With Kids

Reading Time: 3 minutes
king tut exhibition OMSI
The kids, headed for adventure! Photo by A. Leach

Bleary eyed and in search of sustenance, my family sat in the hotel breakfast area. I handed Derp, my oldest, a rolled up scroll of brown paper, tied up with string (because who doesn’t like to bring songs from musicals into their daily life?) and waited patiently.

As they unrolled their scroll, understanding dawned and the kids may have slightly annoyed other tired travelers with their cheers, for it merely said this: “King Tut Awaits.”

king tut exhibition OMSI
The moment Derp realizes why we’re there. Photo by A. Leach

I’ve never seen my kids finish getting ready for the day so quickly.

Arriving at King Tut

We headed to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and arrived just as it was opening, since we wanted as much time as possible to not only enjoy its The Discovery of King Tut exhibition, but also the rest of the museum. We got our entry passes for the exhibit for the first possible time, 9:30 AM, and headed to the entry line where we acquired nifty handheld audio devices with a passing similarity to a cordless phone handset.

king tut exhibition OMSI
You select a number and hit play, and that’s it! Photo by A. Leach

The first part of the exhibit led us through the timeline of Howard Carter’s discovery of this nearly pristine tomb by guiding us with lights, audio, and staff direction. It started well before the excavation and discovery, and moved through recreated rooms in the complex.

king tut exhibition OMSI
Derp listens to fascinating information about the hieroglyphics behind him while Squirrel poses. Photo by A. Leach

At first, I was afraid that there wasn’t enough time to see all the things in those rooms that I wanted to see. There was no cause for fear, though, as the rooms and all of their contents are reproductions with the items also on display in the main exhibit.

king tut exhibition OMSI
Each of these rooms is recreated with the items as close to their original position as possible. Photo by A. Leach

One of the most amazing parts of the walk-through was seeing the different nested shrines, the smallest of which contained Tutankhamen’s sarcophagi, also nested. Standing next to these amazing pieces, and gaining reference for the sheer scale of them, was a high point of the experience.

king tut exhibition OMSI
These shrines were nested. Imagine the work it took to remove them! Photo by A. Leach

Mummy Jewelry and Other Fascinating Artifacts

The final part of the exhibit had artifact replicas in a more accessible format, where they were much easier to see and learn about on a more individual basis. The hearing devices were still usable and were helpful to learn the background and usage of items.

king tut exhibition OMSI
The kids both liked listening to their audio devices at every opportunity.

The kids listened to theirs a lot more than I did, as it was a bit overwhelming for me personally. I don’t process audio information particularly well, so thankfully there was text sprinkled throughout the exhibit as well. The only time I felt the audio was required was the first section where we walked around the complex, but it was useful for the kids the whole time.

king tut exhibition OMSI
Nearly every station had these audio guide numbers. Photo by A. Leach

We all took our time, enjoying the opportunity to see everything and not be rushed. I was grateful we went as early as we did, as the longer we stayed the more people came through. Having the large exhibit room nearly to ourselves was a fantastic way to experience it.

king tut exhibition OMSI
Squirrel wandered the exhibit and listened to every single audio guide. He was enthralled. Photo by A. Leach

Highlights of the exhibit

I enjoyed the whole exhibit, but some things stood out. For example, the intricate jewelry and mummy straps Tutankhamen was entombed with.

king tut exhibition OMSI
These bands were golden, but most people would have gotten dyed linen strips. Photo by A. Leach

The fact that several of the artifacts required adjustment, occasionally hurried adjustment. Many of them originally had a different name, designed for a different person. When Tutankhamen died, they were modified for his name to ensure his travel to the afterlife. Even the sarcophagi for his canopic jars had the effect of someone scratching out a different name and inserting his.

king tut exhibition OMSI
The inscriptions on the inside of the tiny sarcophagi were originally someone else’s name. Photo by A. Leach

After seeing the exhibit, the kids wanted to go see the rest of OMSI, as with or without a traveling exhibit we can spend a great many hours there. We wandered through, separately and together, organically spending time with the exhibits that interested us most and then going to the next rooms as a family.

We built arches together:

king tut exhibition OMSI
Teamwork! Photo by A. Leach

Saw an Egyptian-themed gingerbread exhibit:

king tut exhibition OMSI
The craftsmanship impressed the chef MCJ. Photo by A. Leach
king tut exhibition OMSI
The kids got to be gingerbread men too! Photo by A. Leach

Played fantastically interesting instruments:

king tut exhibition OMSI
Squirrel and I played this together. The sound in the specially designed room could be felt in my bones. Photo by A. Leach

Experimented with water and air:

king tut exhibition OMSI
“But what if we do it with more water?” Photo by A. Leach

Made animations, and all in all wore ourselves out. By the time we finished, I was ready for dinner and bed.

Who Should See King Tut

Everyone can visit this incredible exhibition. During our trip, we saw everyone from babes in arms to a great-grandmother holding a toddler’s hand. There’s something to be said about visiting and seeing items in person over looking at pictures in a book. The replicas are open to the air, but touching is not allowed, so I would have had a harder time if my youngest had been a toddler still. Strollers can be brought through the exhibit, and an elevator is available to get to the second floor.

king tut exhibition OMSI
There are two levels, but wheeled contraptions can use the elevator instead of being hoisted like this. Photo by A. Leach

How to see King Tut

This exhibit is at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry through January 27, 2019. Admission is $22 for adults and $15 for youth. A ticket to King Tut includes admission to OMSI for before or after.

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