MAY 27, 2015, TO APRIL 10, 2016, MUSÉE DE LA CIVILISATION, QUEBEC CITY
A spellbinding experience!
Quebec City, May 26, 2015. – Quebec City's Musée de la civilisation invites you on a fascinating journey into the legendary world of ancient Egyptian Magic, an exhibition that runs from May 27, 2015 to April 10, 2016.
Ancient Egyptians had an unshakeable faith in the power of magic. For them it was both a source of supernatural wisdom and a way to influence their destiny. According to an Egyptian myth, the gods used magic to create the world and give humans powers that would help them survive. Egyptian Magic is a chance to discover the world of magic in Ancient Egypt through its practitioners, its use in daily life and sacred worship, and its ties to the beyond.
Objects of remarkable beauty
Over 300 objects are on display, some dating back 3,000 years. They're on loan from several prestigious museums: the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Egyptian Museum in Turin. In addition to their mystic symbolism, the objects are astonishingly beautiful. Statues of gods and priests—among them a statue of the goddess Sekhmet, one of the heaviest and most imposing pieces the Museum has ever displayed—papyri, magic books, talismans, amulets, figurines, jewelry, vases, stelae, and masks all illustrate how magic was inextricably woven into the fabric of daily life, and how elements of these practices survive in the modern world. For this portion, Musée de la civilisation will also feature the mummy and sarcophagus of Nen-Oun-Ef from its collection, showing it side by side with an effigy of the same personage for the first time.
"Since opening in 1988, the Museum has been building bridges between cultures as it reveals the wealth and depth of the civilizations that gave rise to our own," said Mr. Michel Côté, executive director of Musées de la civilisation. "Egypt, with its architectural and artistic achievements, funeral rites, and mythology, has always been a source of fascination. Life in Ancient Egypt was governed by magic, and it's this lesser-known aspect of that society that we want visitors to discover through the exceptional objects on loan from major European institutions—museums with which we are delighted to be collaborating once again. Indeed, this fantastic exhibition was designed by Dr. Maarten J. Raven, curator of the Department of Egyptology at Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden."
A spellbinding journey
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors find themselves face to face with the imposing statue of Sekhmet, a powerful goddess of Egyptian mythology. As their gaze shifts to the entire exhibition hall, they will see mythical objects of Ancient Egypt, which seem to float above stylized desert sands. The logic and layout of the major themes are immediately apparent: Mythical Magic, Occupation: Magician, Magic for the Hereafter, and, in an adjacent room, Immortal Egypt.
Mythical Magic. For ancient Egyptians, magic was as old as the universe itself. The creator created a heaven for the gods and a netherworld for the dead. Magic held this cosmos together. War, disease, and death were a part of life. Order and Chaos, the forces of good and evil, fought a daily battle. Humans, endowed with magic powers by their creator, could play a role in this battle and fight for their existence.
Occupation: Magician. Local healers, women versed in herbal medicine, men who drove out snakes and scorpions — all were considered magicians. Since no more than 1% of the population could read and write, writing itself was regarded as magical. Scribes studied magic as part of their education. Priests performed various magical rituals and some specialized in medicine. But the most skilled magicians studied at the House of Life, the temple archives that housed secret scientific scrolls.
Magic in Everyday Life. Magic played a major role in daily life. In the event of bad luck or disease, magic put fears to rest and helped the sick to recover. Magicians of the day paid particular attention to protecting the most vulnerable social groups. There were special spells and magical objects for mothers and children, and to protect houses from snakes and scorpions, ghosts and demons.
Sacred Magic. Priests worked day and night to preserve the balance of creation and support the gods in their battle against evil. Daily rituals ensured the rising of the sun and the avoidance of war. Other rites celebrated holidays and annual festivals.
Magic for the Hereafter. Magic pointed the way to everlasting life after death. Mummification prevented the decay of the body. The "opening of the mouth" ritual allowed the mummy to see, breathe, and eat. The deceased was then ready to begin the obstacle-ridden journey to the realm of the dead. The Book of the Dead contained a magic spell against every danger on the way to the courtroom of Osiris.
Immortal Egypt. The magic of Ancient Egypt exerted a profound influence on later cultures. Egyptian theories about God, humankind, and the cosmos inspired early Christianity and Islam. They influenced the development of European philosophy and science. Religious and esoteric movements also drew on Egyptian traditions.
A magical world
In ancient Egypt, magic connected three worlds: humanity, the gods, and the dead—a notion reinforced by the visual presentation of the exhibition. With its evocation of desert sands, the exhibition design and staging enhances the appreciation of the artefacts. Throughout the room, an original multimedia installation projects images of the desert and the luxuriant banks of the Nile. In 60-minute cycles, the lighting transforms the room, moving from day to night and enveloping visitors in a world of magic. Poetic texts on day and night and the battle between good and evil—fundamental concepts in Egyptian life—are played over headsets, as are incantations.
A stunning publication
As an extension of the Egyptian Magic exhibition, a special edition of Beaux Arts Magazine full of captivating articles and stunning images further explores the mythical and magical world of Ancient Egypt. A souvenir worth treasuring!
In conjunction with the exhibition
Throughout the run of Egyptian Magic, Musée de la civilisation will be offering educational and cultural activities as spellbinding as the exhibition itself, including guided tours, family workshops (Hieroglyphics and Amulets), concerts with commentary (with Trio Nicolas Jobin) and a series of talks (with Egyptologist Michel Guay).
Egyptian Magic, a spellbinding experience at Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City, runs from May 27, 2015, to April 10, 2016.
The exhibition is organized by the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, Netherlands, in close cooperation with Musées de la civilisation in Québec City and made possible by loans from the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Egyptian Museum in Turin. Presented by La Capitale Insurance and Financial Services and Teknion in collaboration with Secrétariat à la Capitale-Nationale, Tourisme Québec, Québec City Tourism, the official hotel Fairmont Le Château, and media sponsor Le Soleil.
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