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Cleopatra exhibition to arrive at Cal Science Center in May

January 17, 2012 |  5:21 pm

Cleopatra Coin photo by Kenneth Garrett National Geographic
“Cleopatra” the movie is legendary in Los Angeles as the film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton whose budget spun so far out of control that it nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox in the early 1960s. Now comes Cleopatra the historical figure, starring in a touring museum exhibition that will arrive May 23 at the California Science Center in Exposition Park for a seven-month stay.

“Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt,” will offer more than 150 artifacts, the biggest being 16-foot granite statues of two of the queen’s ancestors from the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled from the 300s BC until the asp did its dirty work on Cleo in 30 BC, as Liz duly depicted on the big screen.

For those wanting to know how the real Cleopatra VII looked, the exhibition will offer gold coins with her profile (such as the one pictured). A New York Times reviewer deemed her features “less than sensuous” in critiquing the show’s 2010 premiere at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

According to the announcement of the L.A. run, likenesses of the historic Cleopatra are almost nonexistent because the Romans under Augustus “attempted to wipe her legacy from the pages of history” after he defeated the forces of the queen and her Roman lover, Marc Antony -- clearing the way for his own ascension as emperor.

The exhibition delves into archaelogical explorations that have turned up many of the artifacts being displayed, detailing underwater probes of Cleopatra’s palace and the ancient sunken cities of Canopus and Heraklion. There’s also an account of the ongoing exploration of the Egyptian desert in hopes of finding Cleopatra’s tomb.

“Mysteries of Egypt,” an Imax film starring Omar Sharif, will play concurrently at the science center with the exhibition, which is organized by National Geographic and Arts & Exhibitions International, the exhibitions subsidiary of AEG Live.

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-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Detail from an ancient gold coin bearing the likeness of Cleopatra VII. Credit: Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic 

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