The Tutankhamun Exhibit, which is in residence at The Saatchi Gallery until 3 May 2020, has been highly advertised all over London for having 150 authentic pieces from Tutankhamun's Tomb as well as more than 60 of which are travelling outside of Egypt for the first time. As The Tutankhamun Exhibit has seen widespread popularity across various countries it found its primary popularity in Paris as it became France's most attended exhibition of all time with over 1.4 million visitors. Even though the Saatchi Gallery has closed due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) temporarily, it’s worth seeing whether The Tutankhamun Exhibit is worth the price, as it’s priced at £28 per ticket with reduced admission for children and students (with a valid form of student ID), under 16's and senior citizens over 65 are entitled to purchase concession tickets.
Throughout London there has been advertising all around the capital, from coffee cups to billboards, to then online adverts to an array of advertising from numerous influencers and bloggers. I’m sure that everyone in London has heard of The Tutankhamun Exhibit at The Saatchi Gallery, even if they’re unsure as to what this exhibit presents and holds. Either way, as it was advertised as one of the most unmissable events with authentic artefacts from Egypt coming to London, I made sure that I attended to see what all the hype was about and whether it lived up to the popularity I’d been seeing online. After booking up tickets with a friend, we first questioned whether £28 was too pricey for a simple exhibit that would last less than 2 hours as well as excluding transport costs and any gifts we’d like to buy afterwards. However, since we have a fascination with Ancient Egypt and wanted to see these 150 authentic pieces from Tutankhamun's Tomb before they were flown back to Egypt, we reluctantly bought tickets and selected our time slot from the various times listed. As we’ve both visited Paris together, we found this exhibit to be rather expensive in consideration that we were able to see The Mona Lisa and the rest of the artworks at The Louvre Museum for €17 which in turn proved to be much better value.
Upon arriving at The Saatchi Gallery it was simply unmissable as there were posters upon posters of the coffinette, which can easily be mistaken for the notable Death Mask, as they were surrounding the entrance. Even though this has been the prominent image around London to advertise the exhibit, it seems very deceiving since many people will think they’re seeing something very rare and special - which may then lead them into buying these extortionately priced tickets. However, we then presented our tickets and were told to queue to the left - a line in which stretched from the entrance of The Saatchi Gallery to the gates surrounding it. Even though we had already paid for tickets we were then made to queue up for another 20-30 minutes. Another queue then formed when visitors were asked to open their bags for them to be checked by security and then once inside there was another never ending queue for those who wanted to get a picture in front of a green backdrop. Even though we decided not to get a picture we were then made to stand another 10 minutes in a queue to actually enter the entrance to The Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh. While waiting in line we were then asked if we’d like an audio guide, something I’d regularly get, except there was a small price tag of £6 that came along with it. As I’ve just paid £28 for a ticket, I thought that these audio guides should be included especially with the sheer popularity of the exhibit.
Once we finally made our way into the actual exhibit, visitors were put into a room, with staff allowing as many people as they could that fit, to watch an introductory video about Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh which lasted only a few minutes which in retrospect I barely saw any of it since visitors tried to get the best view in the room by pushing to the front. Once this video finished visitors were ushered to the next room, with the next group of visitors being led into the room we had just been in. It seemed as if this exhibit followed the same structure as a revolving door, with the main goal to get people through as quickly as they could, which in retrospect seems that they have sold a large quantity of tickets to which they need to deliver their promises on. Even though there were certain themes for Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery including Weapons, Gods, Inside the Burial Chamber and Discovering The Tomb, each room was as full as the next. Therefore, by the time we had moved through to one room, there was another group coming through who in turn tried to push and shove to get to the front of the artefacts, which of course were protected by glass exhibit cases.
On reflection, there was a range of different artefacts on display but once again I felt deceived when there were small items of jewellery that individually counted as one artefact. Furthermore, even though there were a range of artefacts on display, there were more images of artefacts rather than physical ones, once again taking away from the experience of the exhibit. Therefore, the 150 artefacts promised turned out to be a lot smaller and underwhelming than advertised. Moreover, even though the nature of the exhibit is quite professional in nature, it should be noted that a screaming child didn’t lighten the mood nor give me the focus that I was looking for on top of everything else. Additionally, I appreciated the fact that The Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh is open to schools and colleges, but in retrospect they should’ve been given their own time slot since this added to the fact that there were enormous crowds with school children trying not to get separated from their group. Overall, when considering that there are 5,000 artefacts that were recovered with only 150 on display, this is a very small quantity with only 3% on display at The Saatchi Gallery.
After seeing all that the Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibit had to offer, we made our way through to the exit but first stopped at the gift shop. Even though I wasn’t overly keen on the exhibit itself, there were a range of beautifully decorated items that were handmade and from Egypt which were very moderately priced. On the other hand, there were items such as pencils and pens which were charged at £2 and £5 - with a simple design that outlines the name of the exhibit and an image too. The Official Catalogue was priced at £40, which in my opinion is expensive, but in consideration of the sheer size of the catalogue and the work that had been put into it - it may be worth a lot to those who are interested. After leaving, it was apparent that the most expensive exhibit in Britain was nowhere near worth the money paid, it’s a way to exploit people into seeing artefacts that they wouldn’t normally see. It’d be much better to simply watch a range of documentaries on the matter to gain further insight regarding the story and artefacts that Tutankhamun presents.
More information regarding Tutankhamun: Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh can be found here:
Tips and tricks for what to do in London as well as travelling around it.