Egyptomania

September 22 - December 18, 2009
Wilbur Room

Egyptomania is a term that describes the Western fascination with ancient Egyptian culture and history. Although this attention existed as early as the 4th century BCE, immediately following the Pharaonic period, Egyptomania specifically refers to the renewed interest in Egypt during the 19th century as a result of Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign (1798-1801) and the extensive scientific study of ancient Egyptian antiquities and culture that accompanied it.

Since the early-19th century, ancient Egyptian images have been integrated into literature, architecture, art, film, politics, and religion. They were used for everyday objects as well, such as dessert services, furniture, decoration, commercial kitsch, and advertising. This exhibition presents a captivating array of Egyptian-inspired decorative arts and objects of material culture, drawn primarily from a single private collection.

Egypt has had a significant impact on the cultural imagination of Western cultures. In addition to its aesthetic impact, ancient Egypt played an early role in the development of American national identity, serving as a model of independent nationhood. Today, the fascination for Egypt and all things Egyptian still exists, in America and around the world.