Hollywood's Egypt

13 October 2012 until 17 March 2013

Exhibition: Hollywood's EgyptExhibition: Hollywood's Egypt
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights ReservedElizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved
'Scorpion Army’-sword, from ‘The Mummy Returns’ (2001), © Collection H.S. van den Berg'Scorpion Army’-sword, from ‘The Mummy Returns’ (2001), © Collection H.S. van den Berg

For over a hundred years, Ancient Egypt has been a popular subject for films of every kind. This exhibition provides a multimedia survey of Ancient Egypt in film history, with items in the museum's collection as the points of departure.

Elizabeth Taylor, Boris Karloff and Tutankhamun

Elizabeth Taylor was the ultimate Cleopatra, and Boris Karloff displayed all the horrors of his screen persona in 1932 in The Mummy. Few things have such a strong appeal to the imagination as archaeological adventurers finding precious treasure, such as Howard Carter and his discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. The exhibition also looks at children's films, as well as films with Biblical motifs, those dealing with Ancient Egyptian magic, and recent science fiction films like Stargate (1994) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).

This year, the glittering 'Egyptian' jewels that Elizabeth Taylor wore in the film Cleopatra (1963) are key attractions in the exhibition Hollywood’s Egypt. The jewels from this film will be on display together with authentic Ancient Egyptian jewels and numerous other objects from the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities.

Fascination with Egypt

Ancient Egypt has always been a source of fascination for the general public. That explains the extraordinary popularity of films like Cleopatra and the Mummy series. In some areas they inform their audiences quite well about the history and culture of Ancient Egypt, while in other areas they propagate nonsense. More than anything else, they reflected the age in which they were made, and of course the need for good box-office returns.

Films from 1898 to the present day

The films that feature in Hollywood’s Egypt span the entire period between 1898 and the present day. This broad sweep shows just how much films have done to shape the general public's image of Ancient Egypt. Objects from the Museum’s world-famous Egyptian collection support this image in some areas and contradict it in others. The exhibition spans a wide range of material and will occupy two rooms.

Multidisciplinary project

To accompany the exhibition, the museum will be holding a symposium on image-forming and media literacy, lectures, film evenings, school programmes, and activities for children, in collaboration with institutions including EYE Film Institute Netherlands, the University of Leiden, and Leiden Film Festival. The museum has been able to organise this multidisciplinary project with the aid of a contribution of over €160,000 from private and public funds including the VSB Fund, the Mondrian Fund, and the Prince Bernard Culture Fund.

€2 surcharge
During this exhibition, visitors over 18 years of age will be required to pay a €2 surcharge in addition to the museum's regular admission fee. This surcharge does not apply to repeat visits during the exhibition, so make sure you keep your admission ticket.