August 18, 2012

Luxor Museum

Luxor Museum
The Museum at Luxor, opened in March 1976, is situated on the river’s edge about half-way between the great temples of Luxor and Karnak. It has been designed by one of Egypt’s leading architects Mahmoud el Hakim to display works of art from three main sources: from the temples of Luxor and Karnak, from storehouses containing treasures excavated from both sides of the Nile in Luxor, and some selected pieces from the Cairo Museum. The Brooklyn Museum was consulted regarding the selection of objects, and was also active, in an advisory capacity, in their installation.
Luxor Museum
Visitors to this air-conditioned Museum, on two levels under a single roof (a ramp leads to the upper gallery), will be attracted by effectively illuminated works of art, offset against near-black walls. The creation of individual vistas at strategic positions encourages an organised, uninterrupted flow of people through the Museum, and prevents the tendency to double back and congest the space.

The first focal point is the recently found red granite head of Sesostris I, followed by a well to the right, where the magnificent gold-leaf head of the cow-goddess, Hathor, from Tutankhamun's tomb, is displayed. Effective lighting encourages visitors to make their way to the stairway to the rear of the main hall, which leads to a long gallery flanked by displayed objects.

After the major work of art and the major relief, the next focal point is the magnificent alabaster statue of Amenhotep III, seated beside, and under the protection of, Sobek, the Crocodile-god. This, the largest free standing statue in the Museum, is half-way up the gallery. In approaching it visitors pass on the right the famous stele narrating how Kamose conquered the Hyksos (page 37), and various other works of art from the Theban area on the left.

From the centre of the gallery, attention is drawn once more towards illuminated objects at the end of the gallery, where a ramp leads to the upper floor and commands an excellent view of the lower gallery.

The first important work of art on the upper floor is one of the two famous statues of Amenhotep, son of Hapu; it is individually illuminated. On the short wall are some blocks, carved in relief, from the famous quartzite shrine of Hatshepsut, taken from the restricted area of Karnak Temple (see Plan 4); and, as one makes the tiim, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the two heads of the Pharaoh Akhenaten which introduce the Amarna Period (pages I44/I4S)-

On the upper gallery of Luxor Museum is one of the finest reconstructions of modern times: the famous ‘Akhenaten Wall’, an 18-metre wall reconstructed from 300 of the 6,000 blocks of Akhenaten’s Sun Temple extracted by the Franco-Egyptian Centre at Karnak from Haremhab’s ninth pylon (page 60). The wall is a record of some aspects of everyday life during the period of sun worship and has been so constructed that newly-discovered or identified pieces can be systematically added to the wall.

A display area for small objects, such as jewellery, faience vessels and items of adornment, is situated immediately above the circular display area on the ground floor. The second ramp leads the visitors downwards towards the entrance hall, past Coptic reliefs.

A new, well-illuminated gallery has now been opened on the ground floor to the south, i.e. the right, of the entrance doorway. It was specially designed by Egyptian and Italian architects to accommodate statues, each secure in its modem niche, discovered in Luxor Temple (page 30).

The discovery was one of the most exciting finds in recent years. During a routine soil test in the Court of Amenhotep III extraordinary statues in near-perfect condition came to light. They had been carefully hidden in antiquity, perhaps by priests to prevent their destruction when the temple was transformed into a Roman camp in the third century. Among the most impressive monuments on display are a standing statue of Amenhotep III, 2.5 metres high, wearing the Double Crown and represented as a cult statue on a sledge, a pair statue of the gods Mut and Amon, three diorite statues of Haremhab (one kneeling before the seated statue of Amon), Tutankhamun in the form of a sphinx, and a seated-pair statue of the goddesses Hathor and Iunet.

One of the unique features of Luxor Museum is the huge slab, or slatted wall, along its outer face, which separates and enhances the building proper. This serves to keep the Museum cool and creates, at the same time, a colonnade where statues are displayed and illuminated at night. Several large stone works are also exhibited in the grounds of the Museum, as for example the famous stele of Amenhotep one of the finest single examples of relief (photo on page

Another important feature of the Museum, apart from the various storage areas, offices, reference library and study areas, is the Staging ea where the majority of works are prepared for mounting and ticket-booth leads to an outdoor cafeteria overlooking e e on the south side of the Museum.

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