Exhibition “The Amber of Tutankhamun” to Open in November
Exhibition “The Amber of Tutankhamun” is one of the most ambitious projects of the 2014 European Capital of Culture Programme of Riga, highlighting the international dimension of the “Amber Vein” thematic line that goes back through the centuries to Ancient Egypt. The name of the project is a metaphor and does not imply that the treasures of Tutankhamun will actually be displayed at the Riga Bourse. It pays homage to the legend about a small piece of Baltic amber found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, on the pharaoh’s chest. Some Baltic experts believe that it may be amber from the shores of the Baltic Sea that became a symbol of the Sun god Ra in Ancient Egypt, and was meant to protect the body of the pharaoh.
The exhibit will be on show on the ground floor of the Art Museum Riga Bourse (the Great Exhibition Hall, Bosse’s Hall, Art Nouveau Salon), presenting items from the national museums of the Baltic countries and a collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts from the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw. In addition to these artworks, the exhibition will also showcase archaeological amber, emphasising the ancient trade routes to transport amber from the Baltics to other regions where they became historic cultural artefacts. Complementing the exhibition are engravings from the collection of the University of Latvia, that were created at the beginning of the 19th century and depict samples of the Ancient Egyptian art.
The other part of the exhibition will be in the Oriental Gallery on the 3rd floor, stirring associations with tomb passages leading to hidden treasures. This part of the exhibition will be presented as the interplay between the latest technology and ancient artefacts.
At the heart of the exhibition are items from what used to be the Oriental Office of the University of Latvia, created and cherished by Latvian Egyptologist Francis Balodis (1882–1947), the private collection of Sergei Kovler (1881–1960), and Ancient Egyptian artefacts from the Dom Museum. At the moment, all these items are part of the Latvian National Museum of Art collections, which at the exhibition will be displayed alongside exhibits from the collections
of Lithuanian collector Aleksandras Račkus (1893–1965), Lithuanian Egyptologist Marija Rudzinskaitė-Arcimavičienė (1885–1941), Count Mykolo Tiškevičiaus (1828–1897) and other collections held at the Čiurlionis National Museum of Art in Kaunas and the National Museum of Lithuania, as well as the private collection of Tallinn apothecary Johann VIII Burchard-Belavary de Sykava (1776–1838) “Mon Faible” from the Estonian History Museum. On recommendation by the Polish Egyptologist Professor Niewinski, Poland is represented at the exhibition by several highly important artefacts from the National Museum in Warsaw.
The exposition of objects from the Ancient Egyptian cult of the afterlife, which accompanied the dead for a full life in the next world, will be one part of the exhibition, the other thematic division being dedicated to the legendary Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, ancient trade routes and amber. The “Amber Division” of the exhibition has been prepared in collaboration with the National Archaeological Museum in Potenza, Italy, and the National History Museum of Latvia.
One of the central exhibits here is the so-called Alianello Diadem from Potenza, created in Greek colonies in Southern Italy in the 7th century AD, and made of bronze, Baltic amber beads, shells and Egyptian scarabs.
During the exhibition, two books will be presented to the public: the catalogue of the exhibition and the Catalogue of Ancient Egyptian Collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art, prepared in collaboration with leading researchers from the Ancient Egypt Department of the Louvre.