Five Reasons to See Immersive King Tut in Scottsdale | Phoenix New Times
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Five Reasons to See Immersive King Tut in Scottsdale

Take a journey to the underworld with the eye-popping show.
A scene from Immersive King Tut.
A scene from Immersive King Tut. Jennifer Goldberg
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By now, you've probably seen one of the immersive art-themed shows that hold court at Lighthouse ArtSpace in Old Town Scottsdale. Immersive Van Gogh, which seems at this point to be the space's show-in-residence, opened in summer 2021. Since then, Immersive Klimt and Immersive Monet & the Impressionists have come and gone.

Lighthouse's current show, besides Immersive Van Gogh, is Immersive King Tut. It opened at the end of September with visits from representatives of Impact Museums and Lighthouse Immersive, the two companies that co-produce the shows.

Adam Friedman, vice president of Impact Museums, said that about 300,000 people have visited Lighthouse ArtSpace in Scottsdale, a fact that he attributes to the city being "a major art hub," he said. Lighthouse ArtSpace has facilities around North America, including Boston, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Dallas.

Here are five reasons to check out Immersive King Tut before the end of the year.

click to enlarge
A scene from Immersive King Tut.
Jennifer Goldberg

1. It tells a story.
The other shows that have run at Lighthouse have pretty much been eye candy: bright visuals that dance, scroll, and morph on the screen, mostly set to classical music (although Immersive Klimt brought in some techno at the end).

That's not the case at Immersive King Tut. The show is a narrated journey, said Richard Ouzounian, creative consultant for Lighthouse Immersive.

"There’s a famous Egyptian book which deals with what you have to do when you die," he said. "Once your tomb is sealed, you have 12 hours to fight all the forces of darkness and chaos. If you fight them all successfully, you’ll be happy in the afterlife forever. And Amun-Ra, the sun god, will lead you through this struggle.

"What we’re bringing you is what actually happened in King Tut’s tomb after it was sealed shut, when the god Amun-Ra had to lead him on a journey to the sun, to the light, to eternal life. It’s really fascinating, it’s different from anything anyone else has done about King Tut," Ouzounian added.

That translates to a completely imagined, melodramatic, but entertaining program in which the pharaoh tries and ultimately completes his quest for eternal life.

2. The visuals are pretty cool.
The shows produced by Lighthouse Immersive and Impact Museums have never wanted for visual appeal, and Immersive King Tut is no different.

Temples lit by torches, walls of hieroglyphics, golden treasures, massive statues, nighttime in the desert, majestic obelisks, giant snakes — when you're depicting something that no one has ever actually seen, the sky's the limit on creative license. The result is a constantly shifting visual delight.

3. It's a big year for King Tut.
The year 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter. Ouzounian explained how fortunate the world was that Carter found it.

By the 20th century, after thousands of years of grave robbery, the tombs of most of the pharaohs were pretty much cleaned out. But Tut died unexpectedly at the age of only 18 or 19, "and his giant tomb they would have built for him when he was 40 or 50 wasn’t ready. And Egyptian religion decreed that you had to be sealed in your tomb within 30 days of your death," Ouzounian said.

"So what they did was take another tomb that was ready for a less important lord. It was smaller, but in it they jammed all the stuff, all the artifacts, gold objects, historical things that would have been in a pyramid or other kind of tomb for Tut. And because it was a lesser-known tomb, it was on the side of the mountain, and within three or four years the sand had covered it and nobody ever thought to rob it. Nobody ever found it," he added.

Carter was searching for the tomb in 1922, when, as Ouzounian told it, the expedition's water boy cleared a place in the sand to set down a jug and uncovered a step. From there, the tomb of Tutankhamun became world-famous.

click to enlarge
A scene from Immersive King Tut.
Jennifer Goldberg

4. It's probably the closest you're getting to the pharaoh anytime soon.
Artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun toured the world several times from the 1960s to right up before the COVID-19 pandemic, and tens of millions of people lined up to see the golden treasures.

Now, all the pieces are back in Egypt at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the not-yet-open Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, and it's unlikely they'll tour again for many years.

5. It won't stick around long.
Other than Immersive Van Gogh, the shows at Lighthouse ArtSpace generally only stay for a couple of months. The holiday offering Immersive Nutcracker opened there last week, which means that there are even fewer showings of Immersive King Tut to be had. There's no official closing date yet, but if you want to see the show before it blows away like the desert sands, do it soon.

Immersive King Tut. Shows are on the calendar through December. Lighthouse ArtSpace, 4301 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. Showtimes and ticket prices vary. Visit lighthouseimmersive.com/phoenix.
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