Cheops, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ramesses and Cleopatra are names that are familiar to us, thousands of years after the death of the rulers who bore them. But who today remembers Teti, Sesostris or Nectanebo? The exhibition “Pharaoh Superstars” tells how some kings and queens of Ancient Egypt have become international icons today, while others, who had their moment of glory in ancient times, have almost completely forgotten.
Part history, part legend, this 5,000-year journey takes the visitor on a discovery of the exploits and especially the posthumous fame of these exotic characters who are the pharaohs. They can serve as a parable to illustrate the nature and paths of fame, reminding us that notoriety is ephemeral, fickle and not always based on historical merit.
From Egyptian hieroglyphics to pop music and medieval illuminations to classical painting, the originality of this exhibition rests on how it brings together such a wide variety of artworks, historical documents, and contemporary consumer objects. All of them bear witness to the popularity of the pharaohs, their names and images, and often tell us more about our contemporary societies, imagination and aspirations.
The exhibition presents nearly 300 pieces from the collections of the Mucem and the largest French and European collections, including the Musée du Louvre (Paris), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris), the Musée d’Archéologie méditerranéenne (Marseille), the British Museum (London), the Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire (Brussels), the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), the Museo Egizio (Turin), the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Lisbon), the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford), the Musée d’Orsay (Paris), and the Bibliothèques de la Ville de Marseille.
After the Mucem in Marseille, it will be presented at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon (from 24 November 2022 to 6 March 2023).
This exhibition, initially planned at the Mucem for the summer of 2020, had to be postponed due to the health situation.