Between the pharos, towering pyramids, colorful art, lost tombs, and mummies – mummies! – it’s hard not to get excited about one of history’s most famous civilizations. Built along the lower reaches of the life-supporting Nile River, ancient Egypt was powerful, influential, and unequivocally cool for over 3,000 years, from around 3100 B.C to 30 B.C. But try telling this to two adolescent boys with the inflated egos of King Tut. My kids aren’t museum enthusiasts — not yet, anyway. They’ve yawned through immersive art exhibitions, raced around glistening swords from the Middle Ages, and even hurried me past one-of-a-kind displays of midcentury modern furniture at the St. Louis Art Museum in 2017. So, I was skeptical about whether real-life dead bodies could manage to captivate my group long enough for me to read a few plaques about ancient Egyptian culture.
This time, though, things were different. The lights were low, the vibe was moody, and the 350 artifacts sourced from four international museums had been laid out in a maze-like path that made it feel as though we’d actually walked into an Egyptian tomb. I have a hunch that most kids are like mine, and need to engage multiple senses beyond sight to truly enjoy a cultural experience. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science has that covered with its latest exhibition, Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs.
While exploring a catacomb of displays, we used our senses of sight, sound, and touch to observe a variety of items, including time-lapse videos depicting life along the Nile River; touchable objects revealing the region’s animals and plant life; walls fitted with light-up stone art; replica pyramids and temples; and glowing golden masks. Interactive touch-screens also allow kids to try their hand at, for example, writing the Egyptian’s sacred script, hieroglyphs. All this to say, there’s no shortage of activities to keep curious children occupied while parents explore one of the most storied cultures in human history.
Don’t miss the Rosetta Stone – yes, that Rosetta Stone – or the wall-length timeline summarizes 3,000 years of human history. There’s also a room housing makeup vessels, jewelry, and fine textiles, and while this space didn’t resonate with my boys, I enjoyed getting a sense for how much ancient Egyptians valued beauty.
Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs ends as it should, with elaborately decorated coffins and tombs, and information on embalming practices and mummification rituals. If you’re like us and mummies really pique your interest, grab a museum volunteer to explain the mummification process further and answer any questions.
Despite our track record of rushing through cultural exhibitions, my kids and I spent almost an hour learning about ancient Egypt, and to my utter shock, my younger son asked if we could go back to see it again.
Need To Know: Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs opens February 25, 2022. A separate dated and timed ticket is required for the exhibition ($9.50 adults, $7 ages three to 18 and seniors 65 and up) in addition to museum general admission. Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver.