Ancient Egypt in Living Color: Light Show at The Met

Like most architecture of ancient origin, New York's Temple of Dendur lost its vibrant colors many centuries ago. Normally we're left to our imaginations to envision how the ancients would have seen their work, but beginning January 29, 2016, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be employing modern technology to bring this ancient Egyptian temple back to colorful life.

temple of dendur in color nyc

An experimental lighting display, Color the Temple: Scene 1, at The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Filip Wolak

Specialists in the museum's Egyptian Art Department researched original Egyptian coloring, which the staff at the Met's MediaLab was able to replicate in lighting. The results restore color to a ritual scene which shows the Roman emperor Augustus as a pharaoh, making an offering to Egyptian deities. The experimental light show Color the Temple: Scene 1 will be shown over eight weekends this winter, starting Friday.

The Temple of Dendur, built around 15 B.C., originally stood in the ancient town of Tuzis, Egypt. It was given to the U.S. when floodwaters brought on by construction of the Aswan High Dam threatened the structure. With stones weighing over 800 tons, it forms a substantial presence in a dedicated room of the Met's Sackler Wing.

The display will be visible Friday and Saturday evenings (January 29, 30; February 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27; and March 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19) from 5 to 9pm.

Check out our roundup of culture videos for more New York inspirations.

About the Author

Ethan Wolff is the author of numerous guidebooks to New York, having covered the city for more than two decades. He has written for New York Magazine, BlackBook, and Details, among others. In addition to his work as the editor of City Guide, Ethan covers NYC’s talk and lecture scene for the website Thought Gallery. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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