I attended the preview of the Portland Art Museum’s newest exhibition, The Quest for Immortality — Treasures of Ancient Egypt, and had lunch afterwards with Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Director of Excavations in Egypt. This was enough reason for me to brave I-5 between Salem and Portland, despite the blustery wind and rain. I was doubly excited about attending, as I missed the previous Egyptian exhibit entitled “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs”.

The parking fairy saved me a space within a block of the museum – nice! The tour began with a collection of old photographs taken in Egypt in the late 1800’s, which demonstrated how much the region has changed in modern times.

As I entered the main doors of the museum, I was overshadowed by the immense sandstone Head of Thutmose I, (18th Dynasty). I wound my way through the exhibit, and as I progressed I was amazed by the immensity and artistry of the exhibit, and simply the fact that these pieces are so very old and still in such beautiful condition. I looked at a little child’s woven chair, and realized that while great changes have taken place, in some ways we were not so different. A few pieces were a little unsettling, even stomach churning, and I don’t really want my internal organs immortalized in 4 distinctive jars. I would, however, entertain the idea of being covered in a gold and jeweled drape for eternity!

Because of the computer era, much of this information and artistry is available to look at online, but there is no substitute for drinking it in with your own eyes. I found myself walking softly, and whispering, and for me there was a keen awareness of how small our place in the universe is. I wonder how the world will see our present culture thousands of years from now? Go to the Portland Art Museum November 5, 2006-March 4, 2007, and stand in the re-constructed tomb, or in front of the mummy case, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a world long past. www.portlandartmuseum.org 503-226-2811 for more information.

Lisa Richardson, Travel Oregon

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