After a long spring and summer, fall had arrived. A week later, we examined our calendars to find no more doctor visits, no more physical therapy sessions, and no more reasons to stay at home until the week before Thanksgiving. Whoopee! Time to get out and explore.
We picked the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for our first adventure when the Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibit beckoned us from across the bay. It seemed appropriate to start out locally before packing up the trailer and hitting the road. On October 4, 2022, Laura, our daughter, and the two grandkids joined us for the field trip.
The de Young Museum
After signing in at the ticket counter, we walked toward Wilsey Court. There have been many interesting exhibits displayed here, but the Resident Alien II, by Hung Liu is one that’s hard to miss. The 28-foot-tall version of Liu’s 1988 painting of her original green card doesn’t just compete for attention, it commands visitors to look and pay attention. This is something important.
Note the name change from Hung Liu to Cookie, Fortune, a pejorative term. Liu also changed her date of birth from 1948 to 1984, the year she immigrated from China to the U.S. to study at UC San Diego. The change in year commemorates the year she started her new life in America.
We had a few minutes to spare before our scheduled exhibit time, so Laura and the grandkids took a spin at the virtual reality experience, Ramses & Nefertari: Journey to Osiris, while Jon and I watched through the door. After seeing the pods where they sat wearing VR headsets move back and forth, up and down, and all around, I was glad I didn’t take a ride. No sense getting motion sickness before we saw the Ramses exhibit.
Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs
The pictorial in the photo below features Ramses with an axe in hand. The three shorter figures represent his enemies of Egypt: a Syrian, a Nubian, and a Libyan. Note how Ramses towers over his prisoners, reflecting Ramses’s power over the men he’s about to smite.
Waiting a few minutes to watch the multi-media production was worth the time. The production features Ramses’s triumph during his largest chariot battle fought at Kedesh. The narrative, sights, and sounds bring the battle to life in a way that a 2D format could not match.
The replica below shows how the dawn light animates the facade of the Great Temple. The sun first illuminates the four colossal statues of Ramses, then the small sculptures of Nefertari (first wife), Isitnofret (second wife), and their children, then floods the interior with light.
Artists used Ostraca (flakes of limestone) as their “notepads”. Below is a practice sketch of a king giving an offering. The one on the right is a depiction of the board game Senet, which was popular during Ramses’s time and symbolized the deceased’s passage through the Underworld.
Outer coffin of the ancient Egyptian artisan Sennedjem, who lived in Deir el-Medina (ancient name, Set Maat, translates to Place of Truth) during the reigns of Ramses II and his father, Seti I. Sennedjem, a skilled craftsman, worked in the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb was discovered in 1886 on a hill overlooking the worker’s settlement where he
Below is a falcon-headed collar and counterweight that belonged to Princess Neferuptah and a girdle with leopard heads that belonged to Princess Merit. wearing the double-headed leopard girdle hanging from the hips functioned as a protective amulet.
Painted and gilded cedar outer coffin lid of Pinudjem II’s wife, Princess Nesikhonsu, and inner coffin lid or Mummy Board of Pinudjem II
We took a break for lunch at the museum’s cafe where they always have good things to eat and drink, and then we wandered around the other museum rooms.
Faith Ringgold: American People
Jon and I both enjoyed artist and activist Faith Ringgold’s exhibit, which included paintings, quilts, and other artistic forms. A few words came to mind while viewing the work; Strong and emotional and sometimes playful. Unfortunately, the exhibit’s last day was November 27, 2022.
Hamon Observation Tower
The Hamon Tower was our last stop within the museum. It offers fantastic views from its observation deck at 144 feet above ground.
The SkyStar Wheel is a temporary installation that celebrates the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park and I found it interesting that the wheel stands at 150 feet tall. It weighs 465,000 pounds, and its circumference is 500 feet. The 36 enclosed gondolas hold 6 guests, except for the VIP gondola which holds 5 guests. At night, colored LED lights illuminate the wheel. Jon and I passed on riding the SkyStar during our visit, but now I want to be one of the 500,000 people that are expected to take the 12-minute ride. I still have time. The Wheel will be around until March 2025.
And, here’s a bit of trivia: Another Ferris wheel once graced the grounds of Golden Gate Park in 1894 during the Midwinter International Exposition. It stood 120 feet tall.
On Juneteenth 2020 (Friday, June 19, 2020), protestors vandalized the Francis Scott Key statue and it was removed. Monumental Reckoning, composed of black steel structures referred to as the Ancestors and sculpted by Dana King, surrounds the foot of the plinth. The sculptures represent the first 350 Africans kidnapped in 1619 and brought to America. According to a sign on the plinth, the protestors targeted Francis Scott Key because of his views and actions against Africans in America. they also call for Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing to replace the Star-Spangled Banner as America’s National Hymn. Monumental Reckoning is scheduled to remain in place until June 19, 2023.
We always enjoy our visits to the de Young and the many exhibits on display. We feel fortunate to have seen the Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibit, since it is unlikely we will ever travel to Egypt to see such historic artifacts. Visitors have until February 12, 2023, to see the statues, jewelry, and other objects on display. After that date, it travels to Europe and will be in Paris from April through September 2023.
Four days later, we had our fifth wheel trailer packed and drove off for a five-week trip to the mountains, to the desert, and to the ocean. Watch for new episodes soon.