L’OR DES PHARAONS | Monaco, Grimaldi Forum

This exhibition promises “The Gold of the Pharaohs” and it doesn’t disappoint. If it’s full size golden sarcophagi you’re after, head for the final room displaying treasures from the tomb of Psusennes I (21st Dynasty, 1047–1001 BC). However, all through the exhibition, exquisite pieces in gold are on display, miraculously still in mint condition, even those dating back to the 1st Dynasty (about 5,000 years old). A golden scarab beetle is presented alongside its stone mould.

On the other hand, the “gold” in the title can be misleading, since the vast majority of the exhibition is given over to other precious materials. Indeed, the first room offers a beautifully curated row of raw materials (amethyst, red jasper, lapis lazuli, etc), with a genuine Egyptian article displayed above it: the natural and the artificial.

Most objects are held securely behind glass cabinets, like Princess Sitamun’s extraordinarily detailed chair: walk around it to appreciate the design of the back and sides. However many artefacts are laid bare, including the sarcophagus of Senqed, suspended above a mirror so it’s also possible to see the engraving on the inside upper lid.

The exhibition follows a strictly linear path, however you are welcome to move back and forth freely, which is useful in case a particular room becomes too crowded — this is a very popular exhibition. You can cover everything in an hour, or perhaps an hour and a half if you’ve purchased an audio guide (5 euros). An absolutely unmissable collection, and bound to turn anyone into an instant Egyptophile.

Check the Grimaldi Forum website for information about upcoming exhibitions.

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