Press Release

Queen Nefertari: Eternal Egypt Celebrates Artistic Achievements From 3,000 Years Ago

Kansas City, MO
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Visitors Will Discover Ancient Egyptian Works of Art from Tombs and Daily Life

Queen Nefertari, the beloved Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, will be celebrated in the exhibition Queen Nefertari: Eternal Egypt, on view at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art from November 15, 2019 to March 29, 2020. Drawn from the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, the exhibition will bring together 230 works of art that present the richness of life in ancient Egypt from more than 3,000 years ago, focusing on the role of women – goddesses, queens, and artisans.

Although mysterious to us today, Queen Nefertari was the favorite wife and even diplomatic helpmate to Ramesses II, who called her “The One for Whom the Sun Shines.” A colossal temple was built in her honor at Abu Simbel, and her tomb in the Valley of the Queens is known for its vivid artistry. Sometimes called “the Sistine Chapel of Egypt,” the tomb’s elaborately painted walls feature gods and winged goddesses, animals, insects, and hieroglyphs, illustrating the intricate process of passing through the underworld to eternal life.

Visitors to the exhibition will view several personal objects from her tomb, plus an array of objects from royal and day-to-day life in Egypt during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom — majestic sculptures, intricately painted sarcophagi, jewelry, and objects related to beauty, perfumes, and cosmetics. Visitors also will discover the village Deir el-Medina, where artisans lived and worked, creating elaborate tombs and necessary materials for the afterlife.

“It will be thrilling to have these ancient works of art in our midst, to imagine the hands that created them and the importance these objects played in Egyptian culture,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. “W hat a privilege to welcome objects from one of the most significant archaeological sites in Egypt – the Valley of the Queens.”

Zugazagoitia holds an enduring connection with Queen Nefertari. As a young man in the 1990s, he was in Egypt consulting on behalf of the Getty Conservation Institute to determine how best to preserve Nefertari’s tomb in the midst of increasing tourism. He also curated the exhibition Nefertari: Light of Egypt, which opened in 1994 in Rome, then traveled to Venice and Turin.

The current exhibition Queen Nefertari: Eternal Egypt is drawn from the world-renowned Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, which holds some 40,000 objects from all periods of Egyptian history.

Additional information about the Tomb, as well as royal and everyday life in the 19th Dynasty, can be found in the full PDF press release.

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Tomb of Nefertari, mural painting of Queen in Burial chamber from 19th dynasty (detail); Egypt, Thebes, Luxor, Valley of the Queens; De Agostini Picture Library / S. Vannini / Bridgeman Images.

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