Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Souvenirs Must Be Serious

During my recent stay cation, I took in King Tut:The Exhibition, at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.  I had seen the exhibition sponsored by Seattle Art Museum in 1978 twice and there was no way I was going to miss seeing that fabulous jewelry up close again. The exhibition is expensive, but worth it. This time there is more stuff and different stuff than in 1978. The sponsor, National Geographic, designed the show so you never feel crowded and you get a close view of the artifacts. There are lots of places to rest your eyes and legs and good text panels to explain what you are looking at. The Golden Inlaid Pectoral with a Winged Scarab below is an example of the quality of the objects in this exhibition.

The biggest difference, however, between the exhibits in 2012 and 1978 was the spectators and their cell phones and cell phone cameras. The guards asked us very nicely in the waiting room to turn our cell phones off and they request that there be no posing with the artifacts. However, there are always those addicts that have selective listening loss and ignore the requests. I looked every statue and object over very carefully, front and back, knowing how little information a 2 dimensional photograph provides compared to the real thing in 3-D. I was very interested not only in the detail but also how each thing was made and what it was made of. I cannot tell you how many times I saw a person go up to the object, snap a crumby cell phone camera image of it and move on, as if somehow their cell phone will see it better for them.

When we got through the show and landed in the gift shop, my friend Lisa and I were looking for good  posters and other mementoes. Here again I was reminded how the world had changed since 1978. There were postcards and a catalogue with poorly lit photos of the artifacts, but no must-have silliness to invite the envy of your coworkers. Below is a photo of a T-shirt I bought in 1978 and still have.

What can I say? The art world has lost it's sense of humor. Go see the show, but skip the gift shop.