By Susan O'Neill Posted December 1, 2009, 12:37 PM EST
More than 500 guests got a sneak peek at the treasures of Tutankhamun during the Art Gallery of Ontario’s King Tut Gala on November 20. Geoffrey Chown, the A.G.O.’s manager of development and special events, planned the gala in conjunction with committee co-chairs Victoria Webster and Earl Rotman.
The event, a fund-raiser for the gallery, provided an opportunity to be the first to view the new exhibition entitled “King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.” The exhibit, which runs until April 18, includes CT scans of King Tut’s mummy along with more than 100 artifacts from his tomb and other ancient Egyptian sites.
Models dressed in Egyptian garb and holding palm leaves welcomed guests at the Dundas Street entrance to the venue. Inside Walker Court, 120 V.I.P. guests sipped champagne—displayed on a tiered gold pyramid set up in the middle of the floor—and Golden Grape Martinis during a gold patron cocktail reception at 6 p.m.
Baillie Court, the event space on the gallery’s third floor, served as the main party room. Chown called on Machel Reeves Special Events to coordinate the decor. Plush leopard-print fabric draped black bars where servers offered pomegranate martinis to guests. Visual FX Inc. projected images of King Tutankhamun's death mask onto the walls above the bars at either end of the room.
Lounge seating from Lounge Rentals Inc. included groupings of white and gold furnishings accented with sequined and animal-print throw pillows. “It’s '70s glam,” Webster said of the look, chosen to tie in with the fact that the A.G.O. last hosted a King Tut exhibit in 1979. Black velvet and gold lamé fabric covered the walls surrounding the room, and a gold disco ball hung above a glossy black dance floor where break-dancers performed a routine in the style known as Tutting. The King Tut decor continued inside the restrooms where small Egyptian statues held hand towels.
Servers wearing gold lamé headdresses passed Egyptian-inspired hors d’oeuvres created by A.G.O. executive chef Anne Yarymowich. The menu included items like mini chicken b’stilla in papyrus pastry, roasted figs wrapped in duck prosciutto, fava bean fritters with minted yogurt dip, and mini pyramid chocolate truffles.
Food stations, which resembled stalls at an Egyptian bazaar, had dishes such as kashwari, a traditional Egyptian rice dish with toasted vermicelli noodles and lentils, and fattoush, an Egyptian bread salad of toasted pitas with parsley, mint, coriander, roasted cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese.
The Levon Ichkhanian Trio performed during the cocktail reception and DJ Fase spun tunes for guests in Baillie Court. Egyptologists and gallery curators conducted tours of the exhibit throughout the evening.
Event sponsors included CIBC, Kinross, Mercedes-Benz Toronto Area Retail Group, Sprott Asset Management, and CTV.
Correction: This story has been updated to credit Visual FX Inc. with the audiovisual production.