Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tut tut tut

If you love the art of ancient Egypt you might be excited to see there's a Tutankhamun exhibition in Melbourne. That excitement would probably increase when you saw the posters up around Auckland showing the famous golden mask of the boy King, the mask that inspired unheard of queues last time it left Cairo. Wow! Imagine the Egyptians allowing one of the most valuable artifacts in the world to be displayed at the Melbourne Museum. Gotta be worth an airline ticket and a hotel for a couple of days.

Not so fast. The Melbourne Tutankhamun mask is a classic new wave marketing special courtesy of Photoshop. We're looking at a blow-up of a cropped detail, and not even a detail of the famous mask everyone immediately thinks of. As the museum says on its blog, it is not the Tutankhamun mask but ‘an exquisite miniature replica of Tutankhamun’s canopic coffinette.’ What they don’t mention is that not only is the image blown up, but it is cropped to make it look as much like the famous mask as possible. As for the marketers, you know they know they are pushing the boundaries when you read the very, very small print at the bottom of the advert: ‘Image Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun. Not the funerary mask.’ You'd know that if they'd shown the whole figure instead of just the head. Beware.