Surrendering to a black leather recliner, we journey back some 3,300 years to encounter white boxes packed with wheat, barley, exotic cuts of beef such as ox tongue, and a jar of honey to prepare for a voyage to the afterlife. A lavish gilded throne depicting Tutankhamun’s wife Ankhesenamun in a rare intimate pose floats past us. A sarcophagus opens to reveal three coffins nested inside one another, the last one crafted from solid gold and holding a perfectly preserved mummy. Shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, and clothing sealed into the tomb surround us.
What appears to be an embarrassment of riches is undermined by the mystery that unfolds. We gaze at simple imagery, a surprising departure from the intricate paintings that adorn most pharaohs’ tombs.
“The sense of a rushed job has been confirmed by the presence of a creeping brown mold on some murals, the result of lingering moisture in the plaster,” Hugh Bonneville, an English actor best known for portraying Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in the ITV historical drama series Downton Abbey, tell us. “The paint was still drying when the tomb was sealed.”
The eight-minute Tutankhamun: Enter the Tomb VR companion experience voiced by Bonneville is the highlight of Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, a new exhibition created in partnership with the National Geographic Society. On view at Pier 36 on New York’s Lower East Side, the VR experience is included with VIP Tickets which also permit flexible entry time.
A century after Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, rumor and contention swirl around the young pharaoh’s life, death, legacy, and what may lie beyond the tomb.
To this day, mystery and controversy continue to intrigue and inform global experts. Secret hieroglyphics and cartouches within Tutankhamun’s tomb support a theory that Nefertiti was preserved adjacent to her stepson, Nicholas Reeves, a former curator in the British Museum’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities and a world-renowned Egyptologist, revealed in September.
Beyond King Tut borrows from the archives of the National Geographic Society and takes over a cavernous space with cinematic storytelling and dazzling imagery to stir centuries of curiosity.
“New technologies are making it possible to fully immerse people like never before in important stories from our past, allowing us to develop connections and understand history’s influence on our present and future generations,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of public programming and National Geographic Museum director for the National Geographic Society.
The muti-gallery experience is produced by Paquin Entertainment Group (the company responsible for Beyond Van Gogh and Beyond Monet) and in association with Immersive and the creative team that organized the King Tut artifact exhibitions. Immersive experiences augment our appreciation of other forms of art, entertainment, and education.
Whether you’re a New Yorker or a tourist, begin your day exploring some 26,000 objects of artistic, historical, and cultural importance from the Paleolithic to the Roman period (circa 300,000 BC through AD 4th century) at The Met collection of ancient Egyptian art , and make your way downtown for Beyond King Tut. Enjoy your evening and night in Manhattan’s most dynamic neighborhood, boasting established and burgeoning contemporary art galleries alongside the city’s best restaurants and bars. Immersive experiences in massive event spaces are a complement to, not a replacement for, the museum and gallery experience, which is constantly transforming and provokes us in different ways.