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ramses & the gold of the pharaohs : an ancient culture revisited

Egyptologist and Archeologist Dr Mostafa Waziry an ancient Egyptian bust on display as part of the ‘Ramses & The Gold of The Pharaohs’ exhibit opening on Saturday at The Australian Museum, Sydney. November 16, 2023. Photograph by James Alcock / Australian Museum.


There is a new exhibition  at the Australian Museum, in case you didn’t know.  It’s a blockbuster and it’s just for Sydney : RAMSAS AND THE GOLD OF THE PHARAOHS.

At the media preview held on Thursday, the CEO of the Australian Museum Kim McKay  told the media gathered that the exhibition had  presold 100,000 tickets!

“Ramses the Great was a phenomenon – a beloved father, incomparable warrior, and prolific builder whose legacy is both political and cultural. Responsible for countless temples, pyramids and statues, the first ever Peace Treaty, and an enormous, influential family, the stories of Ramses have been retold through generations” McKay said.

“The era of Ramses the Great was also a time of incredible artistic innovation. This is all on display in this extraordinary exhibition through signature pieces including: the famous coffin of Ramses the Great, the priceless golden masks of Amenemope, the exquisite carved sarcophagi of Sennedjem, the extraordinary necklace of Psusennes, and mummified animals including cats, crocodiles, and even a lion cub.”

“The exhibition also reveals the unique and sophisticated artistry of the era, as well as the spiritual life of the people during this time. With many priceless treasures from the ancient tombs and pyramids, Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs will also entrance audiences with interactive, multimedia elements and a thrilling VR experience that takes visitors right inside his tomb,” McKay explained.

“This is a truly immersive exhibition that puts one of history’s most legendary figures into context with dynamic, modern storytelling.” 

As well as being a pharaoh and warrior for Egypt Ramses II, McKay told of how he had a colourful personal life, fathering some one hundred children, and  having seven consorts.

NSW Minister for the Arts, Music, Night-time Economy, Jobs and Tourism, the Hon John Graham MLC, said that Australians are fortunate to have these irreplaceable and historic artefacts here in Sydney.

“Exhibitions of this scale don’t come around very often – they’re complex undertakings that involve hundreds of people and years of negotiation. Following the AM’s award-winning renovations, we now have the kind of exhibition the new spaces were made for with Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs and these superb artefacts that have survived 3,000 years.

I urge everyone to take a trip back in time to see Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition, an incredible opportunity to visit Ancient Egypt without going further than the Sydney CBD!”

Curator of the exhibition, renowned archaeologist and former Minister of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass said the one of the most wonderful things about this exhibition is that it reveals the world Ramses took over when he became pharaoh.

“Our modern world is so different from Ancient Egypt. With this exhibition visitors will be immersed in the world of Ramses and discover a completely different way of life. Ancient Egypt is a part of history that continues to reveal itself and inspire people across the globe. Even today, the world is thrilled with each new discovery that’s unearthed. It holds an enduring fascination for us all,” Hawass said.

“Works of art – statues, jewellery, carvings – made by Ancient Egyptians were intended to honour and immortalise revered pharaohs. They’re well on their way to doing so, given so many still remain today, bringing their stories to life. These are just a few of the exquisite items included in the exhibition.”

“This is a rare opportunity for Australian audiences to discover the unique craftsmanship and sophistication of objects and artworks dating from within the Bronze Age of 3000 BCE to the Classical Age 1st century CE,” Hawass added.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a walk-around of the exhibition. It is a gobsmacking experience.  The exhibition holds 182 priceless artefacts, including Egyptian treasures and one-of-a-kind relics – including the sarcophagus of Ramses II – one of the most impressive royal coffins from ancient Egypt ever to be discovered – many of which have never left Egypt before.

We see sarcophagi, animal mummies, magnificent jewellery, spectacular royal masks, exquisite amulets, and ornate golden treasures showcasing the superb workmanship of Egyptian artisans.

For those interested in learning more about Ancient Egypt, the AM is presenting Gateway to Egypt an exclusive season of lectures, conversations, and experiences. Experts, Scholars and Curators will provide a glimpse into life on the Nile Valley and help us understand how the ancient Egyptians viewed their world.

To extend the visitor experience, there are a range of activities, talks and experiences including a thrilling Virtual Reality experience that takes you on a whirlwind tour of the Abu Simbel temples and the Tomb of Queen Nefertari. In cinematic motion chairs visitors will fly through temples and sandstorms and even come face-to-face with Ramses’ mummy in this electrifying animated journey.

Individual Audio Tours are also available, providing a compelling narrative for visitors as they walk through the exhibition and there is a full colour catalogue available for sale, containing essays and in-depth background information about Ramses the Great by Dr Zahi Hawass.

From 18 November, Bistro Gadi, the AM’s new rooftop restaurant, will provide visitors with a casual but elegant dining experience on Level 4. With views overlooking Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral and Woolloomooloo Bay, Bistro Gadi focuses on fresh seasonal produce with flavourful mains, vibrant salads and wraps prepared daily.

A fascinating man living in an equally compelling  time in history, let yourself be taken on this journey. The exhibition is on at the Australian Museum for six months with the closing date19th May 2024.


Photos by Ben Apfelbaum unless otherwise credited. 








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