HOUSTON — Visitors to the Houston Museum of Natural Science have an exclusive chance to step more than 3,000 years back in time and learn about an Egyptian pharaoh who is considered among the most powerful.

The museum recently welcomed the world premiere of the “Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs” exhibition set to run through May.

The exhibition is the largest collection of Ramses II original artifacts from Ancient Egypt to have the approval to be shown outside the country in 32 years and includes 181 rare items as it explores the reign of Ramses II, according to the museum. Also known as Ramses the Great, the pharaoh ruled for 66 years and amassed one of the largest and richest burial chambers in ancient Egyptian history.

Houston Museum of Natural Science anthropology curator Dirk Van Tuerenhout said the exhibit offers a detailed account of life before, during and after the reign of Ramses II.

“The focus of the exhibit is Ramses II. The exhibit provides ample context to the importance of this pharaoh,” he said. “Visitors will also see artifacts from preceding and subsequent dynasties, clarifying what happened leading up to Ramses II and what came after his death.”

Van Tuerenhout went on to say the exhibition was of great importance and remains historically relevant.

“Living some 3,300 years ago, he (Ramses II) presided over one of the largest territorial expansions of the kingdom,” Van Tuerenhout said. “He reigned for a very long time, and that translated into the building of numerous structures throughout Egypt, and the commissioning of vast collections of art. Part of that heritage is on display in Houston.”

Van Tuerenout said Ramses II fought against the neighboring empire of the Hittites and that the conflict concluded in a peace treaty — the earliest known peace treaty in human history.

Momtaz Louka, who moved from Egypt to the U.S. in 1983, said he was impressed with the accuracy and details of the exhibit.

“We learned about Ramses II in our history class in elementary school and still consider him one of the greatest rulers of our country,” Louka said. “I think it’s great to show the public a part of ancient Egyptian history that most people are not familiar with.”

The exhibition also features an immersive virtual reality experience depicted in a whirlwind tour of arguably Ramses’ most impressive monuments — the temples of Abu Simbel and Nefertari’s Tomb, which Louka said was one of his favorite parts of the exhibit.

“The virtual reality tour was a new experience for me, and I couldn’t believe how real everything looked. The Abu Simbel temple is the only one in Egypt I haven’t been to, so it was a really great experience,” said Louka.

“Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs” is open through May 23. Admission is $20 for members, $35 for adults and $27 for children and seniors 60 and older.

For more information, visit www.hmns.org.

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Cityneon Holdings, a global entertainment experience company, enters into an agreement with Wuxi Jingkai Government to land a new global R&D facility of its fully owned subsidiary Animax, a world-class animatronics company that specializes in entertainment robotics.

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, with over 30 years of industry experience, Animax is the creative robotic entertainment company that has been supporting the Group’s Intellectual Properties (“IP”) experiences in cities around the world. Animax also serves some of the largest operators in the world in themed entertainment, live attractions and location-based entertainment. As storytelling engineers, Animax brings its expertise and experience to design and build characters and multiple forms of entertainment robotics.

“We are pleased to support the development of the Animax R&D facility in the Jingkai District and we look forward to witnessing the endless possibilities that this venture will bring to Cityneon and to the city of Wuxi,” said Yang Jianping, Secretary of CPC Working Committee and Director of Administrative Committee of Wuxi Jingkai District.

Ron Tan, Executive Chairman & Group CEO of Cityneon said, “We are honored to work with Wuxi Jingkai Government to bring Animax to China. This new facility in China allows Animax to further expand its capabilities to be a world-class animatronics company that specializes in entertainment robotics, and it will also play a pivotal role in Cityneon’s strategic expansion of entertainment experiences globally.”

“Today marks an exciting milestone in the continued growth and development of Animax, with our first step toward a rapid expansion in Asia. The development and construction of the new China facility will be swift, and we look forward to this exciting next step in the globalization of Animax’s markets and capabilities,” said Steve Andersen, P.E., Vice President of Operations of Animax.

With the expansion of the middle-class population, rise in disposable income levels, and strong demands for themed entertainment, China remains one of the fastest-growing attractions market in the world. The available talent in China for the development and advancement of technology to meet the Group’s vision of the future of experience entertainment with state-of-the-art animatronics and entertainment robotics is also a key driver for Animax’s expansion in Asia.

Phase 1 of Animax’s R&D facility development in Wuxi is set to be completed by the end of 2022. Spanning more than 10,000 square meters (nearly 108,000 square feet), this new facility will continue to support the Group in delivering large-scale interactive experiences around the world by producing entertainment robotics and delivering immersive experiences globally.

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Cityneon Holdings, a global experience entertainment company, has entered into an agreement with Wuxi Jingkai Government, which will create a new international research & development facility of its fully-owned subsidiary company Animax.

Animax Designs is a specialist in the creation of animatronics and interactive characters with over three decades of industry experience.

The firm is a specialist in creative robotic entertainment and supports the Group’s IP experiences in venues around the globe, including some of the largest live attraction operators in the world, as well as themed and location‐based entertainment.

By engineering the art of storytelling, Animax uses its expertise to design and construct characters alongside multiple forms of entertainment robotics to delight millions of people each year.

“An exciting milestone”

Secretary of CPC Working Committee and director of the Administrative Committee of Wuxi Jingkai District said “We are pleased to support the development of the Animax R&D facility in the Jingkai District and we look forward to witnessing the endless possibilities that this venture will bring to Cityneon and to the city of Wuxi.”

Cityneon Holdings executive chairman and group CEO Ron Tan added “We are honoured to work with Wuxi Jingkai Government to bring Animax to China.

“This new facility in China allows Animax to further expand its capabilities to be a world-class animatronics company that specialises in entertainment robotics, and it will also play a pivotal role in Cityneon’s strategic expansion of entertainment experiences globally.”

Animax vice president of operations Steve Andersen, P.E., comments “Today marks an exciting milestone in the continued growth and development of Animax, with our first step toward a rapid expansion in Asia.

“The development and construction of the new China facility will be swift and we look forward to this exciting next step in the globalization of Animax’s markets and capabilities.”

Last month, Cityneon signed a development deal with Qatar Free Zones, which will see another new facility established in the Middle Eastern country.

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Cityneon Holdings, a global experience entertainment company, has announced its latest partnership with a leading US film production studio.

Two brand new experiences will be created in a new collaboration with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment. Described as “unique global touring themed art experiences”, the IP-based attractions are scheduled to open in two years, in as yet undisclosed locations.

Visitors will be able to discover their favourite DC Comics Superheroes or magical characters from The Wizarding World franchise in a whole new light. The travelling exhibitions will deliver immersive themed art environments for fans of the hit series.

Cityneon says the new experiences will combine cutting-edge technology with the latest advancements in media, and sound to construct a “truly sensorial” guest experience.

Creating unique experiences

Both Cityneon and Warner Bros. see great potential in the upcoming projects, which will deliver the brands to audiences from 2023.

Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment SVP Peter van Roden comments on the partnership:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Cityneon on these two new cutting-edge immersive themed art experiences.

“Each of the new experiences will help us further continue to reach our DC and Wizarding World fans with fresh, innovative and immersive experiences where guests can interact with the franchises like never before.”

Cityneon Executive Chairman & Group CEO Ron Tan adds:

“We are excited to announce our partnership with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment to deliver two unique experiences based on two of their most successful and globally acclaimed franchises, the DC Universe and the Wizarding World. This strategic relationship is a testament to our determination to scale greater heights in the arena of IP experiences.

“With Cityneon’s strong track record of delivering large-scale and innovative experiences globally, I am confident that the DC and Wizarding World experiences will be truly unique and immersive experiences that fans of all ages will enjoy.”

Earlier this month Cityneon Holdings announced it has signed an agreement with Qatar Free Zones to create a new facility featuring an R&D innovation lab and production workshop.

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Cityneon Holdings, a global experience entertainment company, has signed a deal with Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to establish a new facility in the Middle Eastern country.

The strategic agreement was signed in Doha to create a facility that will cater to the company’s entertainment technology and experience clients, seeing market growth in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) zone.

The company, recently recognised as one of Singapore’s best-managed companies, will produce large‐scale experiences in Qatar as it has done globally, including its Jurassic World: The Movie Exhibition in Chengdu, China, and the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibition in Las Vegas.

New facility

Cityneon’s new 15,000 square metre facility will be constructed in the Ras Bufontas Free Zone, featuring an international experience and entertainment technology centre, an R&D innovation lab developing animatronics and robotics, and a production workshop.

The agreement documentation signatures were overseen by Qatar’s minister of state and GFZA chairman of QFZA H.E. Ahmad Al‐Sayed, Secretary‐General of Qatar’s National Tourism Council and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive H.E. Akbar Al Baker, and Singapore’s Ambassador to Qatar H.E. Jai S Sohan.

Signees QFZA CEO Lim Meng Hui and Cityneon Middle East general manager Feroz Siddiqui are looking forward to the new partnership.

Meng Hui says “We are delighted to welcome Cityneon, a leading entertainment technology company that designs and manufactures equipment and robotics for the sector.

“Cityneon’s decision to open its first such facility in the Middle East at Qatar Free Zones is a testament to the strength of our offering and the exciting trajectory of the entertainment technology industry and the tourism sector in Qatar and across the region, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar Free Zones provide an ideal environment for international and local companies with the skills and innovation to help build a better future.”

Siddiqui adds “With this new office we embark on our Middle Eastern journey in bringing cheer, joy, laughter and smiles to awe our audiences with our large, immersive and technologically advanced entertainment assets to the region.”

QFZA senior management was also in attendance, with Cityneon’s senior management team, including Ron Tan, Executive Chairman and Group CEO, joining virtually from Singapore.

Tan says, “We are pleased to be working closely with QFZA to fast‐track our expansion plans in the EMEA region, which is a strategic and important market for the company.

“We see immense potential for our IP business in this region and the strategic location of our new facility in Qatar will be pivotal in addressing the markets that we plan to serve, as well as for us to reach out to potential partners and collaborators for the Group.”

Earlier this autumn, Cityneon announced its latest interactive experience based on the popular Transformers IP in a collaboration with Victory Hill Exhibitions set to debut next year.

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The Boca Raton Museum of Art is hosting the world premiere of Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru.

The exhibit features nearly 200 artifacts, which includes one of the most impressive collections of gold to ever tour the world.

The ancient people of Peru left a visual record for their world. A record that includes priceless artifacts, many used mostly in ceremonial rituals, that were preserved for thousands of years.

“Most of which found their final stage, in the burial of leaders, of priests, priestesses, kings, and queens,” said Museo Larco Director and exhibit co-curator Ulla Holmquist.

Visitors will be led through the immersive experience with the sights and sounds of ancient Peru.

“We have tried to make a script, that will allow the people to have an experience. To experience what we in the Andean region… the way people related to their territory, our ancestors, the way they lived and the way they created their world,” Holmquist told CBS12 News. “With this immersive experience, we are going into the Andean world, first presenting how the cosmovision developed.”

Visitors will walk through the displayed artifacts, which tell the story of how the ancient people modeled their world, how they related to the force of nature, animals, and the afterlife.

In a first of its kind, the exhibit features virtual reality that will place visitors in the heart of Machu Picchu – one of the 7 wonders of the world.

The exhibit runs through March 6.

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Queen Nefertari

The ghostly figure of Queen Nefertari, Great Royal wife of Ramses II beckons us into a spectacular new exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Other artefacts include golden masks, sarcophagi, animal mummies, jewellery, amulets, and treasures from the tomb.

An exhibition combining digital technology and precious relics

So who was the pharaoh that the exhibition is dedicated to? “Ramses II is considered to be the greatest king to ever rule Egypt,” Dr. Zahi Hawass, the former Egyptian minister of antiquities says.

Multimedia and digital technology features prominently in the exhibition, including drone footage showing some of Egypt’s most iconic locations. An HD projection screen shows panoramic views of the ancient sites, as well as an introduction into the life of Ramses and the discovery of his mummified remains in the 19th century.

The exhibition has 181 Egyptian artefacts and covers important points in Ramses’ reign. These include his military victories, such as a re-creation of Ramses’ triumph at the Battle of Kadesh, perhaps the largest chariot battle ever fought.

“Visitors will not only walk among priceless relics of the great pharaoh but also experience the sights and sounds of the time through a cutting-edge virtual reality experience,” said Ron Tan, CEO of Cityneon Holdings, one of the co-partners of the exhibition.

The story continues with the 1881 re-discovery of a mummy cache in a hidden tomb, where the body of Ramses was found amongst a number of long-lost royal mummies.

“It is vital that Egypt share our historic treasures in exhibitions such as this,” said Dr Mostafa Waziri, Egypt’s secretary-general of the supreme council of antiquities.

After a six-month run at Houston, the exhibition will transfer to San Francisco’s De Young Museum and then on to the Castle Hall in Massachusetts. From there, it will arrive in Paris and on then for London, before a final showing in Sydney for January 2025.

Life in times of Ramses the Great

Ramses II (c1303-1213 BCE) ruled during the 19th dynasty of Egypt in the New Kingdom period. He was renowned for his building campaign of impressive cities, temples and monuments.

His military campaigns included in Syria, the Levant, Nubia and most notably for the Battle of Kadesh. The conflict is reportedly one of the earliest pitched battle in recorded history. It was the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving up to 6,000 chariots.

Ramses II lived a surprisingly long life for an ancient Egyptian, probably dying in his 90th year. His mummy is well preserved, and we have an account from Gaston Maspero, who was the first to reveal the features of the great pharaoh.

He wrote: “on the temples there are a few sparse hairs, but at the poll the hair is quite thick, forming smooth, straight locks about five centimetres in length. White at the time of death, and possibly auburn during life, they have been dyed a light red by the spices (henna) used in embalming…the moustache and beard are thin.”

“The hairs are white, like those of the head and eyebrows…the skin is of earthy brown, splotched with black… the face of the mummy gives a fair idea of the face of the living king.”

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CAIRO – 24 November 2021: The exhibition “Ramses & The Gold of The Pharaohs” welcomed visitors from all over the American city of Houston to enjoy the splendor of the great Egyptian antiquities with the enchanting melodies of the harp instrument in the background.

During the first days of its opening, the exhibition witnessed a huge turnout of visitors from different age groups. Some 8000 tickets were booked and sold in the first hours of the exhibition’s opening day. It is expected that the number of visitors will amount to 700,000 by the end of the exhibition.

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri explained that an Egyptian delegation representing the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities had received the visitors, who expressed their fascination with the greatness of the Egyptian civilization.

For her part, Assistant Minister for Tourism Promotion Lamia Kamel said that the Egyptian pavilion at the exhibition also witnessed a great turnout from the museum visitors, who used the QR code shown on the main panel in the pavilion to access the promotional site for Egypt on various social media platforms, in order to get acquainted with the brilliance of the Egyptian tourist destinations and Egypt’s countless tourism products.

Kamel confirmed that the visitors of the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences expressed their enthusiasm to visit Egypt, especially in winter.

Moreover, Kamel reviewed the efforts exerted by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, in cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, to create a direct flight route between Sharm El-Sheikh and Luxor to link beach tourism with cultural tourism, within the framework of the ministries’ efforts to create an integrated tourism product.

It is worth noting that the “Ramses & The Gold of The Pharaohs” exhibition showcases 181 artifacts that highlight some of the distinctive characteristics of the ancient Egyptian civilization, especially from the Middle and Modern Kingdoms to the late era. The exhibits include a group of statues, ornaments, paintings, stone blocks decorated with inscriptions, and statues of deities in the form of birds and animals, as well as some colorful wooden coffins.

Also, the Egyptian pavilion in the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences will be broadcast Egypt’s grand celebration “The Sphinx Avenue ” that will take place on November 25 at 7:30 p.m.

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Billionaires may be able send you to outer space, but the Houston Museum of Natural Science can now transport you 3,200 years back in time.

And what a trip. The museum’s stunningly reincarnated Hall of Ancient Egypt reopened Saturday in tandem with the world premiere of “Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs.”

Combining the 12,500-square-foot hall with the 20,000-square-foot Ramses exhibit, the space is fit for a pharaoh. The immersive experience was created by HMNS and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo. This is the first stop of a planned 10-city world tour, having opened at HMNS Nov. 20 and showing through May 23.

Entering the exhibit gateway feels like stepping into a Hollywood movie set. The lighting, music, desert-like quietude, the rows of replica columns — we’re off to ancient Egypt.

Initially, I get whiplash glancing to and fro at jewels, amulets and gold masks, knowing these are not props; they come from ancient tombs. Calm returns as the pathways lead smoothly around the exhibit spaces.

Their appeal goes beyond objects. The carefully choreographed experience puts the artifacts — including mummies — in the context of their time. Ramses the Great ruled 67 years, advancing Egypt’s culture and influence; he expanded national borders, brokered history’s first known peace treaty and spearheaded the building of cities, temples and monuments.

A high-definition projection, surround sound, precision lighting and special effects whisk visitors from the golden age up to the 1881 discovery of the ruler’s remains and tomb treasures. Naturally, there’s a virtual reality tour; it’s led by an apparition of Queen Nefertari, Ramses’ wife, and journeys through temples and sandstorms to the afterlife.

HMNS exhibit designers explored temples, towns and tombs in Egypt to accurately recreate the art and architecture.

“We paid extremely close attention to detail,” says consulting curator Tom Hardwick, “to create artistic environments that would transport visitors to another time and place, allowing the look and feel of ancient Egypt to wash over them.”

Hardwick gives me a sense of the passion shared by archaeologists, scholars and museum exhibit designers who work with these precious tangible pieces of historyAfter years, the Cairo resident at long last gets to see the results of his labor, sharing details with me.

A glittering stone vessel from a grave dating to the time the pyramids were built turns on a pedestal. It would have held precious oils used to prepare deceased royals for journeying  to the afterlife.

A 3,000-year-old mummy lies in a glass case. Overhead, CT scans show the man, named Neskhons, turn as if on a barbecue spit, revealing amulets that were placed inside his body.

Hardwick explains the aim of mummification: the subject is being transitioned from a mortal into a god. The preservation process — akin to “being turned into beef jerky” — enables “transformation into a radiant being.” Masks covered in gold transfigure the dead person “in the rays of the sun.” And the hair on mummies’ heads? It’s real.

A cradle of tiny figures reminds me of vintage Playskool wooden peg people. Hardwick explains they represent servants left in the crypt to attend to the deceased’s needs through eternity (now that’s a long gig).

The prevailing belief that you can take it with you extended to pets; even mummified cats are on view. In a replica burial chamber, I shyly touch gleaming gold leaf walls covered with storytelling engravings. The tech team digitized imagery found in shrines to create these walls and coated them to allow touching.

Displaying nearly 200 objects, some over 5,000 years old, the exhibit flows through eight rooms. Its ambiance feels fitting for viewers bearing witness to ancient secrets and rituals, while the combination of technology, research and care make the exhibit a journey worth taking.

Find tickets and hours here.

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HOUSTON — Houstonians will soon have the chance to take a step back into ancient Egyptian history.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science will be premiering a new exhibition called “Ramses The Great and The Gold of Pharaohs” this weekend.

“It gives a sense of the range, variety and richness of Egyptian culture,” said Tom Hardwick, Consulting Curator of the Hall of Ancient Egypt with HMNS.

The new, limited-time exhibit will give the public a chance to explore the life of one of the greatest rulers, Ramses the Great.

“Ramses the Great was called Ramses the Great because was able to accomplish so much in his lifetime,” said John Norman, CEO of World Heritage Exhibitions.

His agency is one of those partnering with the museum, traveling on the 6-year, 10-city world tour.

“Some of these pieces have never been out of Egypt before and there are some incredible stories to be told,” he said.

The tour starts here in Houston Saturday. Hardwick says the museum’s Hall of Ancient Egypt will also be back open to the public after a months-long renovation process.

“This is a completely new incarnation of it. We vamped the objects, the lighting” he said.

Norman said the displays will allow you to get lost in history.

“You forget that you’re in Houston or in a museum. You’re in another time and place.”

The exhibit opens Nov. 20. Tickets for the exhibition start at $35 per adult and $27 for children.

Click here for more info.

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