The landscape change is abrupt as you approach the Egyptian Museum of San José; with the Ankh symbol prominent on its rooftop and white columns decorated in blue and gold, the architecture of this place does try to emulate the temples found at Karnak, Egypt. I became very interested in the word Rosicrucian, as it was prominent at the door and part of the description just about everywhere. Who were these people, and what was their connection to ancient Egypt? As a native of Egypt, I did not recall ever having come across that word, even though I had left the land many decades ago.
Peaceful and artfully set gardens surround the museum and its other buildings; you’ll be able to see them all, including the lovely, colorful geometric fountain whose cascading water breaks the silence. If you look carefully, you will spot a few papyri plants growing on the side, and imagine that they grow exactly the same way along the banks of the Nile.
As we walked inside, there was a children’s class in progress; not too many adults were visiting the museum that day. It is possible to see the exhibits in an orderly fashion if you follow the brochure, which is available at the door:
1. The Afterlife Gallery
2. Tomb Replica
3. Daily Life Gallery
4. Religion and Kingship
5. Akenaten and the Sekhmet Shrine
6. The Rotating Exhibits Gallery
Between five and six, the layout breaks for the museum store. Naturally, we didn’t follow the order, as we never follow any order.
The sheer number of artifacts collected through donations and/or sent by grateful Egyptians during the excavations is phenomenal. The large significant statues and historical finds, such as the Rosetta Stone, are unfortunately all replications of the originals. However, on the positive side, if you can’t make it to London’s British Museum, you can at least visualize the stone right here. The most brilliantly executed is the replica of the tomb: though it looks dark and foreboding at the entrance, be brave and go in. The walls are replete with hieroglyphics and drawings of Egyptian men, women, and animals depicting life as it was then. For a glimpse of this short journey, you can go here and click on the "Tomb Tour."
Another fascinating segment for me was the display of women’s kohl for make-up, flax for clothing (linen), and the importance of frankincense and myrrh for temple rituals. Extraordinary and disturbing was the mummified body of Usermontu-Huy, whose knee had been x-rayed to reveal a surgical procedure whereby a pin had been inserted. It can be assumed that this was a king of some sort, as his pose of arms crossed is one of royalty.
The photos below really don’t do justice to all there is to see.
General admission is $9 with discounts available for members of AAA, AAM, KQED (Bay Area radio station), and the military.