When I found out the Cleveland Museum of Art was hosting a special exhibition entitled Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt for their Centennial Celebration I knew I had to see it for myself. Ancient history has always been my favorite topic of study especially in college. I spent so much time learning about Rome and Greece but my passion for Egypt began with a book series actually.
My aunt and cousin introduced me to the Amelia Peabody mystery series in high school and I have read every single one of the nineteen published books by Elizabeth Peters. Set in the late 19th to early 20th century in Egypt and occasionally Britain these books follow the adventures of Amelia Peabody, a feisty woman fascinated with Egyptology and Archaeology. There’s murder, mystery, dashing men, female power, and a bunch more excitement to be had.
So any chance I get to dive into Egyptian culture, history, and artifacts I jump at the chance! I’ve been to the Oriental Institute in Chicago for an Art History course and I got to visit the Metropolitan Museum’s sprawling Egyptian wing when I traveled to New York. Now I was able to go to my very own art museum to continue my immersion into this intriguing culture.
It was surprisingly my first time at the Cleveland Museum of Art and what a stunning building it is. All of the open space within the main atrium and how the old 1916 building is still used to house exhibits. It’s all so beautiful with so much light filtering in even on a cloudy day. Before my mom and I went to the Pharaoh exhibit we browsed through some of the collections: Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval, African, Egyptian. There was so much to be seen and I always feel like I could spend days in museums and never see everything.
I was giddy with excitement as we made are way to the Pharaoh exhibit. The exhibition was a collaboration between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the British Museum so there were just so many artifacts and information to be seen. There was even a little audio tour that described certain areas more in depth. The exhibit covered everything from who the Pharaohs were to temples and festivals, palace life and running the government to war and the afterlife. It was quite expansive and we spent about an hour walking through.
It all came full circle though when I saw The Crocodile in the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters in the gift shop at the end of the exhibit. It felt so right to find it there and I knew I had to buy it. I own a random selection of the series in paperback so I added the first one to my collection. I also bought a few postcards and a ruler with a list of all the rulers of Ancient Egypt. It’s the most ridiculous but coolest thing.
Overall I had an amazing time at the Cleveland Museum of Art! Being able to immerse myself in history and be surrounded by artifacts brings me immense joy and I’m so happy that I got to attend this exhibition. It was such a well thought out and composed look at a Pharaoh’s life, place in society, and impact on the wider world. I hope I get the opportunity to see more exhibits like this in the future as well as get back to the Cleveland Museum of Art for other events!
So is there a time period that you’re just so utterly fascinated by? Do you get the chance to go to art exhibits? Has a book inspired a passion outside reading? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!