Perhaps I went in with images of chiseled abs and eye liner like those from the movie “The Mummy,” but I left floating with an expanded head of knowledge about the Egyptian art and magic that survived many centuries.
It’s no mistake the exhibit is entitled “Egypt: the Art and Magic.” At first glance it feels like you’re entering a regular museum exhibition. The sculptures, stone carvings, and photographs are displayed as such, and due to the Museum of Fine Art’s surroundings, it’s temppting to first view the displays as an art critic. Ah, the materials are unusual to work with. Ah, I wonder what was going on in the creator’s mind when he was…
– then you realize how old the stuff is (how did it survive THAT?!)
– then you realize it wasn’t created to evoke “emotion”
– then you realize… it was created with “magic” in mind!
The ancient heiroglyph writings are carved everywhere, but aren’t there simply to provide descriptions. The heiroglyphs were added because it was believed they produced a magical energy(?) … and any material containing that writing also became empowered from that energy(?)… AND anything or anyone who touched that material received that magical energy as well. Even the materials chosen to create an “art piece” weren’t picked at random. Certain “canvases” and “mediums” were chosen because of the magic each was said to possess.
I found the survival of the pieces more interesting than the displays themselves. It’s so crazy to think of how many centuries have passed in front of those statues’ eyes or imagine the lives of the different hands that touched the great tablets.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re “Egypt-stupid” like me– little plaques next to each piece give great descriptions. But of course, it’s better to jump into any of the tour groups. Unfortunately, my tour guide today was a very young lady who, despite being VERY informative, spoke like a hesitant and jittery mall rat. Distracting.
The two-floored Egypt exhibit is HOT. The Museum of Fine Arts has other excellent exhibits covering a range of cultures, mediums, and time… but it’s obvious there was more people crammed into one section of “Art and Magic” than there were in the entire rest of the museum combined.
Naturally (and unfortunately) photography isn’t permitted in the Egypt exhibit, although the rest of the museum is up for grabs. Visit my trip by clicking on any my pictures.
This exhibit is great for the whole family– even hyperactive young’uns! And if the place starts to feel too much like a tomb, don’t forget MoFA is surrounded by the great walking outdoors of Downtown St. Petersburg.
Egypt: The Art and Magic (Until April 29, 2012)
Museum of Fine Arts
255 Beach Drive NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701