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“In the Light of Amarna” Official Opening

Neues Museum

On 6 December 2012, exactly 100 years to the day after the discovery of the Nefertiti bust in Tell-el Amarna, the exhibition 'In the Light of Amarna - 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery' was officially opened at the Neues Museum on the Museumsinsel Berlin. The assembled guests were officially greeted in a series of welcoming speeches delivered by
Bernd Neumann, Minister of State for Culture and the Media, Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Mohamed Higazy, ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt (photo), and Friederike Seyfried, director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection and curator of the exhibition.

The Minister of State for Culture was keen to emphasize that the bust of Nefertiti was beyond a doubt the rightful possession of the SPK. He made reference to the comprehensive documentation that supports this point. In his statement, he also made the case that artworks of this kind form part of a universal cultural heritage to be enjoyed by all humanity, and that, as such, they should be made accessible to as many people as possible, irrespective of where they are currently located.

The exhibition will run until 13 April and features much more besides the famous bust, such as an array of objects from everyday life in Amarna. These objects have never gone on display before and have been restored for the first time for the purpose of today's show. They include cutlery, tiles, and jewellery. In addition, architectural models, historical documents, and films give a vivid sense of what life was like in the royal capital of Akhenaten and Nefertiti thousands of years ago, as well as documenting everyday life during the digs just over a century ago. They also clearly document the legal division of finds that occurred after the digs were completed. As was customary at the time, the division of finds, agreed to by both parties, meant that half the found objects passed into the hands of the excavating party, while the other half was handed over to the Egyptian authorities.

The Berlin-based business leader, James Simon, started funding Ludwig Borchardt's excavations in 1912. Thanks to Simon's patronage and Borchardt's perseverance, the excavations resulted in the discovery of Nefertiti 100 years ago. As a consequence of the division of finds, some 5500 objects from the Amarna period came into the possession of James Simon, who later donated them to the Royal, now National Museums in Berlin (the Staatliche Museen).