COSI’s Lost Egypt Exhibition


A Send-Off from Lost Egypt Exhibit Producer, Kate Storm by Carli

It’s been an amazing summer with “Lost Egypt” at COSI. There were several particularly memorable experiences for me.

  1. After years of looking at a small table-top paper scale model of the exhibit, it was incredible to walk into the gallery for the first time and see the real exhibits and murals and walls. Seeing the large scale murals of Egypt, as well as Brad Feinknopf’s photos in the hallway, reminded me of our trip to Egypt.
  2. Watching visitors at our member event with archaeologists Dr. Mark Lehner and Ana Tavares from Ancient Egypt Research Associates, and Dr. Jonathan Elias from the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, was so great. I got to introduce two girls who want to become archaeologists to Ana as they walked through the exhibit!
  3. I saw hundreds of people climb on the camel, build a pyramid, search out the archaeological clues from the Lost City site, move a pyramid block, discover artifacts, watch a show about the afterlife, come face to face with a mummy, explore tomb art, and study the forensic science behind mummies. I really hope we managed to capture some of the excitement and sense of wonder that is the science of archaeology, and share it with our visitors.
  4. We performed formal evaluations, received written comments, and overheard lots of conversations about “Lost Egypt”. We really value all the comments from visitors and colleagues – everything that was said about what you liked and didn’t like, what you found compelling, beautiful, or boring, is so useful in planning our future exhibits. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Now we’re preparing to close “Lost Egypt”. I feel a bit like I’m sending my kid off on her first day of school. “Lost Egypt”is heading out into the world to tour the U.S. for the next several years. It was the most wonderful, exhausting, amazing and challenging work project I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful for the help of Josh, Carli, Jenn and all the others at COSI who helped turn the idea into reality. And the Science Museum of Minnesota team who brought it to life was incredible – I miss working with all of you, and hope we can head off to Jordan or Greece or Mexico for the next adventure some day soon! It’s been a privilege to work on Lost Egypt, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

An interview from the top of the world.

An interview from the top of the world.

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How to Make a Camel by COSI

Author: Kate

Our exhibit fabricator for Lost Egypt was the Science Museum of Minnesota. The camel was subcontracted out to Blue Rhino Studio, who create amazing animal and architectural models.

The first step was to research what camels look like. While in Egypt, COSI photographer Brad Feinknopf paid a guard to let us photograph his guard camel while it was lying down, from all angles.

Camel Research #1

Camel Research #1

Camel Research #2

Camel Research #2

These photos and other research provided Blue Rhino Studio with front, side and back views of a camel, which they scaled to an average camel height, width and length based upon project advisor Jonathan Elias’ recollections and other photo research. From there, artist Jim Burt at Blue Rhino amalgamated the information, started sculpting and gave Sarah the Camel her personality.

Jim Burt was the main artist and had 2 to 3 people helping him. 2’ x 4’ x 8’ urethane foam blocks were glued and then carved and sanded to get the basic shape.

Sculpting #1

Sculpting #1

Sculpting #2

Sculpting #2

Sculpting #3

Sculpting #3

Sculpting #4

Sculpting #4

This was then covered with water-based fiberglass cloth similar to a paper mache’ process.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass

Then a water-based epoxy was applied over the fiberglass. The hair and detailing were added in the epoxy layer while it was in a soft putty state. The epoxy was then color-stained with base pigment colors and acrylic paint highlights were added after that.

Fiberglass and Paint

Fiberglass and Paint

The project from start to finish was estimated at 12 weeks, including the photo research, back-and-forth discussion, sculpting, modeling, painting, etc. The discussions were about things such as the camel’s size; whether it should be made of soft or hard material (in order to last the 6+ years that Lost Egypt will be touring, the camel needed to be sturdy); the angle of the head in order to make it more appealing and photogenic; the color of the fur; how to give the impression of those long eyelashes that camels have; and whether we could add an interactive feature to make the camel spit or grunt (unfortunately, the budget didn’t allow this!).

Face

Face

Body

Body

The neck and tail were reinforced with metal tubing and fiberglassed into the foam substructure. This made Sarah the Camel very durable.

The camels ears are bent metal covered with epoxy. The teeth are epoxy. The stirrups are metal – painted to look like leather straps and act as a step up to the camel.

Ears

Ears

Ears Finished

Ears Finished

Teeth

Teeth

The saddle is modeled upon photo research of camel saddles, with wood and metal frame construction. We added foam padding for comfort, a real middle eastern blanket and an underblanket replicated from pictures.

Blue Rhino Guys on Camel

Blue Rhino Guys on Camel

The materials used are all high quality and fire-rated, giving us a unique and sturdy ambassador for the Lost Egypt exhibit.

Finished Camel

Finished Camel

Blue Rhino on Camel

Blue Rhino on Camel

Camel at ASTC

Camel at ASTC



Photo Adventure in the Valley of the Kings by COSI
January 30, 2009, 11:08 am
Filed under: Trip to Egypt, Trips & Travels | Tags: , , , , ,

This story was shared with us by our photographer for our Egypt trip, Brad Feinknopf. We thought you might find it interesting too, so we’re sharing it here:

I am a commercial photographer located in Columbus, OH and I was recently hired by COSI, the local science center, which was in the process of creating an exhibit which will open the Summer of 2009 entitled Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets. Modern Science to travel to Egypt on a photographic expedition to create imagery for this exhibit. This exhibit will premier in Columbus, OH and then travel the United States. All the photography on this trip was shot with a Canon Mark II 1Ds on SanDisk Extreme III 4 GB cards.

Now to the story.

We were on Day 9 of this incredible expedition and we had been granted special access from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities to photograph three of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings. There are not many photographs of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings because photography is strictly forbidden and they rarely grant access. When we arrived at the Valley of the Kings, our Egyptologist knew the head guard, and he agreed to actually close each of the tombs we were to see for one hour apiece so we could photograph them. Keeping in mind that there are thousands of people who come to the Valley of the Kings every day, so to close the tombs for an hour was incredible and out of the ordinary.

The first tomb we visited was KV 9, the Tomb of Rameses VI. This tomb has been uncovered for a very long time – there’s even Greek and Roman graffiti on the walls in some places. It is filled with incredibly brilliant color decorations of religious iconography including the gods and goddesses. We were very excited about this – the photos were beautiful. At one point we asked if the color had been restored since it seemed impossible for it to have survived intact for so long, but our guide Ehab said this was all original and just very well preserved. At the end of the long ramp down, there was an enormous stone sarcophagus – truly worthy of a king.

The second tomb we saw was a surprise. We had intended to visit Rameses III next, but it was so swamped with people that we could barely move through it. The temperature inside was probably 95 degrees Fahrenheit (you’d think the tombs would be cooler inside, but with all the people going through and the lack of air circulation, it’s like a sauna). Ehab suggested that instead we visit KV14, the tomb of Tausert, the royal wife of Sety II who became regent of Siptah and eventually the last ruler of the 19th Dynasty.

The last tomb we saw was KV 34, the tomb of Thutmes III. Now the story gets interesting. After shooting for 3 hours on a SanDisk Extreme III 4 GB card, I did the final shot of the day. I was standing on a bridge which connected the shaft to the burial chamber over a 50-foot drop. I was bracketing my exposures to make certain I had the correct exposure and my Canon knocked out 2 of the 3 shot bracket, filling up the 4 GB card. My initial thought was that the 2 captures would be fine, so lets wrap up and go. I then thought to myself that I had traveled all the way to Egypt to do this photography, so why risk any chance of not getting the shot? I had extra cards, so let’s switch out the cards. I opened the back of the camera and pressed the eject button (maybe a bit too hard) and the card shot out and fell 50 feet into the dark precipice with all the images from my entire time at the Valley of the Kings stored on it! I was frantic. I informed the group, and we shined a light borrowed from the videographer on the expedition into the precipice and could see the card. We immediately informed the guard at the tomb and were told, “In Egypt, whatever the problem, we will find a solution!” About 15 dreadful minutes passed, and then several men came back with a long rope which one of them wrapped several times around his waist. The others stood as if playing tug-of-war and carefully lowered him to the bottom. I watched fearfully as he wandered around the bottom of the pit, stepping with inches of the card several times. Despite the language barrier, he found our lost card, and they pulled him back up. Their generosity was overwhelming and deeply appreciated.

I now had my card back but had no idea if the 50 foot drop to the rocks would have affected its contents. The next few hours were arduous as we left the Valley of the Kings with no idea whether we had anything to show for our efforts. We traveled back to our hotel where I raced to my laptop to download the images (if they were even there). I am sure that it didn’t take long although it seemed like an eternity while the images downloaded from the card and I opened them up. After several grueling hours, I discovered that the SanDisk had held up and the images were intact!

I am eternally indebted to SanDisk for a fine product. One of the most incredible days of my life would have been lost to eternity had it not been for some very kind Egyptian guards at the Valley of the Kings and one very durable Sandisk Extreme III 4 GB card!



Egypt & Back in 22 Minutes by Carli
March 24, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , ,

Author: Carli

Our photographer, Brad Feinknopf, has posted a slideshow of photographs from our Egypt trip on his blog. Take a look at these amazing professional photos!



Responsibility – My Thoughts by COSI
March 6, 2008, 11:34 am
Filed under: Trip to Egypt | Tags: , , , , , ,

Guest Author: Brad Feinknopf, Photographer

On day one, I was dealing with the shock to your system that one is no longer in the United States and that you have arrived in a very different culture, with different customs, climate and etiquette.

On day two, I was at the Pyramids of Giza and all I could think was, “Wow, I am standing at the Pyramids of Giza”.

But in day three, I had an epiphany. I have been given a tremendous opportunity. A once in a lifetime opportunity but, with that opportunity comes great responsibility. I am seeing first hand what many of the people who attend the exhibit will never see first hand and even if they travel to Egypt, they will never be given the access to many of the closed tombs and sites to which I am being given access. Therefore, it is my obligation, to those 10s and possibly 100s of thousand of people who may come to this Exhibit, to be their eyes and see for them first hand, so they can see second hand what amazing treasures exist in this great land of Egypt.

I relish the opportunity but understand the importance of what I am doing and want to make sure that when the job is done, that it is a job done well.