King Tut Review: Or How to Avoid Meltdowns in a Museum

I’ll say it from the beginning, we loved the King Tut exhibit. We regularly visit museums, so our children aren’t pre-programmed for high energy entertainment. They understood that some of what we saw would be somewhat beyond their comprehension but that this exhibit, in particular, was pretty special. Both because it came from a foreign country and because it was ancient history, as in thousands of years old.

We have done a considerable amount of reading on ancient history over the last few years, and I plan on wrapping it up this year. So, the King Tut exhibit was a good ending for us. I rented two audio devices with narration proided by Harrison Ford, the Hollywood archaeologist, and we passed them around. Even my 6 yod listened intently to the explanations.

One way I explained the timeline was by using the birth of Christ as the mid-point in the timeline. It’s been approximately 2,000 years since Christ was born. Many of the objects in the exhibit pre-date the birth of Christ by about 2,000 years. That helped put the incredible age of these artifacts in perspective. For example, there is quite a bit of jewelry gathered from various tombs. What girl doesn’t like jewelry? So, I explained that some of those pieces were worn around the time that Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt.
If you haven’t been to the exhibit, you may not realize that it contains artifacts from many tombs, not just King Tut.

My 6 yod asked some very good questions during the exhibit, such as why so many of the statutues were damaged. I explained that they had been buried for so long that they might have been broken during an accident or when someone tried to steal them, such as when the tombs were plundered by grave robbers. We know all about lost toys and how some things get squashed when lost behind a couch or stomped on by another sister.

A video in the last room of the exhibit depicts a fairly recent CAT scan and DNA test performed on the bones of King Tut. Our history book is several years old and discusses some of the mystery surrounding King Tut, such as why and how he died and who his father was. The video answered those questions, so we got pretty excited about learning something new and fitting that information into our history puzzle.

The only downside for us was that double strollers were not allowed in the exhibit. I totally understand the reasoning for this. Entry is limited to allow easy access to all the artifacts, and strollers would hinder the traffic flow. Our 2 yod and 3 yod did very well through the first half. Then, they got a little tired and wanted to be carried more. By the time we got to the last two or three rooms, they had really had about enough. There were only a few benches to sit on every so often, and once I sat down with the 2 yod to give her (and me) a rest. But we made it through the exhibit fine, and we all enjoyed it immensely.

Museums are totally doable, even with very young children. It helps to read about the subject in advance. Schedule the tour at a convenient time for you…NOT during nap time, for example. We went before lunch, so everyone was still in decent moods. Go potty BEFORE you enter the exhibit. Explain and discuss what you’re looking at during the tour, picking something they like in real life, jewelry in our case. Take a break as needed (we couldn’t leave the exhibit because you couldn’t get back in). If necessary, bribe them with a trinket from the gift shop after the tour. We didn’t have to do that, but I’m totally okay with it.

To experience, not only another culture, but also a time period so vastly different than our own was a great privilege. I like the reminder that we are not the center of the universe in locality or time.

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