The British Museum has chosen an unusual way of marking the centenary of Tutankhamun’s discovery, and some people will love it, and umm, some are likely to loathe it.

They’ve given over a room in the museum to the graffiti artist Ahmed Nofal – known as Nofal O — who has spray painted the entire interior with a street-art style graffiti that’s a perfect blend of ancient Egypt meets modern art.

Sitting in the middle is a statue of Tutankhamun, which had been misunderstood to be of Horemheb, one of Tutankhamun’s successors, as that’s what the stone carved label on the back says. However, much as street art is often overwritten, it’s now understood that the label is a recarving of Tutankhamun’s name by Horemheb to usurp the statue for himself.

It’s ancient graffiti.

In a way, the idea of filling a room with decoration is not much different to an actual ancient Egyptian tomb — which were themselves richly decorated to provide support to the dead on their journey to the afterlife.

It’s just one room, but I think it’s a really innovative experiment with how to catch people’s attention and highlight the centenary of Howard Carter’s discovery. Some will accuse it of dumbing down and other tabloid friendly soundbites, but not everything needs to be dry and dull and, well, frankly, a bit boring at times. Getting people excited and interested in history takes many guises and this is a wonderful way of sparking curiosity.

I fall into the love it camp.

The display, Tutankhamun Reimagined is free to visit and open until the end of January 2023. You can find it in the first room to the right immediately after entering the British Museum’s main entrance, just before the shop.


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