The Boy King rules in San Francisco

For a mid-summer diversion, we traveled to San Francisco on Friday to see the King Tut exhibit at the De Young Museum. “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” is the follow-up touring exhibition to the Tut exhibit that excited America 30 years ago. (The closest I got to that one was Steve Martin’s classic King Tut song on “Saturday Night Live.”)

The new exhibit is marvelous. After a long wait in line and watching a 90-second introductory film, you enter the shadowy galleries that dramatically light the treasures pulled from Tut’s tomb. The artifacts collected by Howard Carter and his expedition to the Valley of the Kings are spectacular.

It’s hard to mention highlights because virtually every piece in the exhibit sparkles with beauty. The items range from a solid gold dagger that was buried at the waist with Tut’s mummified remains to an enormous gold-plated sarcophagus for one of his female ancestors. Some of my favorites were the elegant canopic jars in which the organs of Tut and his relatives were preserved. There’s a photo of a fabulous canopic jar stopper at this link along with photos of some other dazzling items.

Although he didn’t wear baseball caps, Tut had some special headwear. One of the first items in the exhibit is a mannequin depicting him wearing a flat-topped crown. Also on display are statues of Tut side by side representing his dominion over upper and lower Egypt, each figure with different head gear.

As is the way with blockbuster exhibits, the end-of-tour gift shop nearly rivals the galleries in size. Souvenirs from the nearly sublime to the cheesey can be had. Toward the lower end of the spectrum are caps with Tut’s cartouches and the Eye of Horus (pictured).

The exhibit Web site gives you only a hint of the wonders awaiting you at “Tut and the Golden Age.” Fortunately, there’s plenty of time to see it, as it runs through March 28, 2010.

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