Retro Charlotte

Ramesses II: The Pharaoh and His Time

Museum worker prepares display in August, 1988.
Museum worker prepares display in August, 1988. The Charlotte Observer

When the Mint Museum board voted to bring the Ramesses II exhibition to Charlotte no one anticipated the huge crowds it would generate. Instead of the predicted 360,000 visitors, more than 630,000 people paid to view the ancient statues, jewelry, tools, and other artifacts. Required renovations to the museum included a three-story building added as a temporary addition to house the 24-foot tall Colossus of Ramesses.

Arts writer Richard Maschal reported on the deciding vote in September, 1986:

“A blockbuster exhibition of ancient Egyptian treasures unlike any ever brought to the Carolinas is coming to Charlotte. The Mint Museum board of trustees voted Tuesday to bring ‘Ramesses II: The Pharaoh and His Time’ to the museum from October 1988 to January 1989. The material, from the Cairo Museum and valued at $35 million, includes large sculptures of Ramesses, gold cuffs made for the king and a level and plumb line such as those used to build monuments associated with his name...

“Ramesses II, many scholars believe, ruled during the Exodus and was the king Moses asked to ‘Let my people go.’ He reigned for 67 years about 3,000 years ago. ‘It is by far the most exciting opportunity this museum has ever faced,’ Mint President Tom Cox told the board. To show the material, the Mint will clear 11 galleries on the main exhibition level, storing works from the permanent collection. Museum officials estimate 360,000 visitors over the exhibition's four-month stay - more than double the 160,000 visitors it expects this year.”

Maria is the Observer’s librarian.

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