River Delta Royalty

NOMA mounts Queen Nefertari’s Egypt exhibition through July

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home.


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Photo courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

After years of planning, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) opened the Queen Nefertari’s Egypt exhibit last month, which will be on view until July 17. Queen Nefertari was the first wife of Pharoah Ramses II (reigned 1279-13 BCE) and is regarded as one of the most powerful women of the New Kingdom period of Egypt (c. 1539-1075 BCE). The traveling collection of the renowned Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy features 230 objects that combine to tell the story of royal women, artisans and the afterlife, and includes a model of Nefertari’s tomb.

“The many exceptional objects in Queen Nefertari’s Egypt, drawn from the collection of the Museo Egizio in Turin, will bring to life the role of Nefertari and other powerful women in ancient Egypt,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “NOMA is delighted to be able to present some of the priceless creations from Queen Nefertari’s tomb, where visitors can appreciate their great history up close.”

To attract tourists to the exhibition, NOMA partnered with New Orleans & Company, the region’s destination marketing organization.

“We are happy to be partnering with New Orleans & Company to build excitement among culture seeking travelers around the arrival of Queen Nefertari’s Egypt, with the goal of converting interest to ticket and travel bookings,” said Margaux Krane, NOMA’s director of brand and communications.

“We know that locals and visitors alike are really excited about Queen Nefertari’s Egypt, and we expect that the visitation for this exhibition will surpass attendance records from the last ten years,” said Krane. “Due to the momentous nature of this exhibition and the anticipated increase in attendance, NOMA will be open seven days a week and will have special extended hours for Queen Nefertari’s Egypt. We highly recommend museum visitors book tickets in advance to guarantee entry at their preferred time.”

For many New Orleanians and longtime return tourists, the Queen Nefertari’s Egypt exhibit harkens back to a time when we were visited by another famous ancient Egyptian, Tutankhamun.

“Through the presentation of this exhibition, we hope to ignite the same sense of wonder that was sparked with NOMA’s 1977 exhibition Treasures of Tutankhamun, which visitors still reminisce about to this day,” said Taylor. “We look forward to welcoming longtime enthusiasts of this fascinating subject matter, as well as introducing the treasures of ancient Egypt to new generations of locals and visitors alike.”

The exhibit, which was most recently hosted at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, is organized into featured themes. Primarily, it tells the story of Queen Nefertari who was regarded as a significant diplomatic and religious figure in her era. According to NOMA, she had many roles including queen, divine consort, diplomat, and queen mother. As a result, her tomb was one of the most richly decorated tombs in the Valley of the Queens.

Nefertari was lesser known until 1904, when Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli — the director of the Museo Egizio at the time — brought the pieces back to Italy with him.

Other themes explore the roles of women in Ancient Egypt, particularly those affiliated with the royal family and those workers who supported the royal and religious leadership.

The craftmanship of Ancient Egypt is revealed with artifacts from Deir el-Medina, a planned community for the workers who constructed and decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. NOMA said it is believed that Amenhotep I (c. 1541-1520 BCE) planned the site, which was continually occupied until the collapse of the New Kingdom in 1069 BCE. Residents of Deir el-Medina included masons, draftsmen, painters and other craftsmen, as well as scribes, administrators and service workers, such as washermen and midwives.

Of particular interest is recreated model of Queen Nefertari’s tomb. It was made to scale in the early 20th century with accurate details and a sense of immersion into ancient Egyptian life

Special events are being planned during the next few months, including a lecture on June 24 by Kara Cooney, professor of Egyptian art and architecture and chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Culture, University of California at Los Angeles. Cooney will present “Women and Power in Ancient Egypt” based on the work she has done on social inequalities and how women negotiated their limited leadership roles.

The NOMA Museum Shop is working with local New Orleans artists and businesses to develop exclusive collections inspired by Queen Nefertari’s Egypt and the exhibition catalog is available for purchase with additional academic essays and details.

To purchase tickets in advance and for details on pricing, visit noma.org.