Detroit’s ‘Immersive King Tut’ is an excellent lesson on Egyptian gods, but falls short of visually stunning

The exhibit feels more like a drive-in movie projected on four walls than a work of art

click to enlarge Immersive King Tut seems very much like a “do it for the ‘gram” experience for social media influencers, not an art exhibit. - Margo Hawk/ Courtesy photo
Margo Hawk/ Courtesy photo
Immersive King Tut seems very much like a “do it for the ‘gram” experience for social media influencers, not an art exhibit.

The “immersive art exhibit” trend where digital animations are projected onto walls has made a stronghold in Detroit.

It started with Immersive Van Gogh, continued with Immersive Klimt, and now we have Immersive King Tut, with Immersive Nutcracker and the Disney Animation Immersive Experience on the way. The exhibits are all helmed by Lighthouse Immersive, which set up shop in a former German culture club in downtown Detroit.

Immersive King Tut opened to the public on Friday, Nov. 4, and after expressing skepticism of digital projections of Van Gogh’s paintings in favor of the original paintings, which are now on display at the DIA, we decided to give this one a fair shot. It was also a special occasion: Nov. 4, 2022 happens to be the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.

We were expecting something where maybe we enter the pharaoh’s tomb, come face to face with Egyptian gods, and touch hieroglyphics as they came alive before our eyes.

Instead, you enter a room where animations of ancient Egyptian lore are projected on the wall. The Egyptian Sun God Ra recounts King Tut’s life, burial, and descent into the underworld where he helps Ra defeat the gods of chaos.

It’s clear the creators’ intent was to transport us into King Tut’s tomb and commune with the pharaoh, but it falls short of visually stunning, especially when you catch a glance at the pixelated projections on the floor beneath you.

Rather than the visuals, the best part of this exhibit is the story accompanying the show, narrated by Ra. Ra teaches us about Egyptian deities like Osiris, the god of the deceased, and sky goddess of love and fertility, Hathor. As Ra and Tut traverse the underworld in a quest to save not just Egypt but the entire universe, they’re attacked by the great serpent Apophis, who threatens to destroy Ra’s light.


Of course, with the help of other deities, Ra and Tut are victorious, saving the universe from chaos. It closes with Ra reminding us that his light shines down on our paths every day. (Remember, he is the sun.)

The dramatic story will fascinate history aficionados, admirers of polytheistic religions, or anyone interested in the mysteries of ancient Egypt. The experience is also more intimate in the second-floor viewing room, while a larger room on the third floor feels more dramatic. Both rooms play the same storyline.

Some critics have dismissed projection mapping exhibits as “wall-sized screensavers”, and we can understand why. Immersive King Tut feels more like a drive-in movie projected on four walls than a detailed work of art. We found the replica of King Tut’s tomb with his mummy inside that’s displayed on the first floor of Lighthouse ArtSpace to be far more interesting.

To be fair, we have seen some pretty amazing digital projection mapping exhibits, like teamLab Borderless in Tokyo, where you become a part of the experience as you walk through bursting constellations, rooms of infinite light, and cascading flowers.

That experience left us with high standards, so the animated video at Immersive King Tut felt flat. It seems very much like a “do it for the ‘gram” experience for social media influencers, not an art exhibit.

Immersive King Tut will be on display until the end of December at Lighthouse ArtSpace; 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit. For more info, see immersive-kingtut.com/detroit.

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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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