Nas-Inspired King Tut Mask Statue Creates Controversy For Dutch Museum

King Tut

The Dutch National Museum of Antiquities was accused of claiming King Tut was a Black man in its “Kemet” exhibit.

A museum faces backlash for an exhibit allegedly depicting King Tut as a Black man.

The Dutch National Museum of Antiquities opened an exhibit called “Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funk.” The exhibit explores the connection between Egyptian culture and Black music.

Media outlet Egypt Independent accused the museum of claiming King Tut was a Black man. The museum also dealt with attacks on social media and a flood of one-star reviews on Google, according to Artnet.

The outrage stemmed from the David Cortes statue I Am Hip-Hop, which is featured in the “Kemet” exhibit. The sculpture was inspired by Nas’ I Am… album cover, which reimagined the rapper in King Tut’s famous mask.

Museum director Wim Weijland defended the “Kemet” exhibit in response to the King Tut complaints. The director noted the exhibit “does not have an Afrocentric perspective on ancient Egypt” but critically examines ideas presented in Black music.

“The exhibition does not claim the ancient Egyptians were Black, but explores music by Black artists who refer to ancient Egypt and Nubia in their work: music videos, covers of record albums, photos, and contemporary artworks,” Weijland said in a statement. “This music often reflects on the black experience in the West and tells stories about the African diaspora and pre-colonial Africa, including ancient Egypt.”

He added, “The exhibition explains that the representations of ancient Egypt are imaginaries: artistic interpretations of ancient Egypt, not realistic images of ancient Egyptians. For example, the exhibition contains a modern sculpture that represents the musician Nas, modeled after the mask of Tutankhamun. The exhibition explains that it is a contemporary artwork, not a replica. The exhibition explains why and when it was made and clarifies that it is not an ancient Egyptian artifact.”

The museum’s “Kemet” exhibit remains on display through September 3, 2023. Learn more about “Kemet” here.

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