The myth of Cleopatra, the last queen of Ancient Egypt, lives on today thanks among other things to exhibitions like this one, where her personality, history and legend shine brightly against the backdrop of the fascinating time in which she lived. The characters and landscapes, the decline of her dynasty, the Ptolomies, and the birth of the Roman Empire have all been recreated through archaeological artefacts, paintings and sculptures from the 16th to the 19th centuries as well as through the costumes and atrezzo of ballets, operas and films.
The cases and other display elements were inspired by the furnishings of Ancient Egypt, reinterpreted in a more abstract style but with recognisable formal and functional aspects like zoomorphic legs and the first folding chairs. The exhibition design comprises free-standing display cases, tables with urns, pedestals and wall-mounted display cases. These four elements address the diverse formats and materials of the exhibits, while the free-standing cases also allow viewers to admire selected pieces from all angles.
Light and colour are used to recall Ancient Egyptian settings and to identify the different themes. The ambient light is more intense than what is commonly found in exhibitions of this type, and the palette is based on turquoise, ochre, green and blue, subtly applied so as not to detract attention from the pieces.
In addition to objects and artworks, the exhibition features the use of large iconic images—such as the profile of Liz Taylor wearing an Egyptian headdress that opens the Cleopatra and the Performing Arts section—as well as meticulously crafted audiovisuals that showcase the work of illustrators and 3D animators. Some of these productions are documentaries that explore Alexandria, capital of the ancient world, in the days of the Ptolemaic Dynasty; others are immersive and recreate highlights in the queen’s life, such as her encounter with Mark Antony at Tarsus and her tragic death.