The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium
1342 Naglee Avenue
San Jose, CA 95191 USA 1 408 947 3636
Hours: Open daily except Tuesdays, 10am to 5pm; last admission at 4:30pm. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and New Year's day. Smoking, eating, drinking, and photography are all forbidden in the museum.
Traveler's note: The Museum is in a residential section of San Jose, roughly in the center of the oval formed by the 880, 280, and 101 freeways.
Special Event: A one-hour workshop on reading basic hieroglyphics will be offered at 2pm on July 22, July 29th, and August 5th, 2000. Admission to the "Learn Egyptian Hieroglyphics" is included with regular museum entrance fee.
Adults: $7.00, Children 7-15 $3.50, Seniors and Students $5.00, children under 7, free.
This intriguing collection is housed in the Egyptian-style buildings at Rosicrucian Park, one of the few places outside Egypt where it is possible to walk and see nothing but Egyptian architecture surrounding you ... but in this case, the buildings are not in ruins. Inspired by the Temple of Amon at Karnak, it's a delight to see these buildings, in a smaller scale, complete and in use. Some liberties have been taken - the images on the walls are foreshortened and colorless, unlike the original brightly-painted decorations of the Egyptian temples, but the overall effect is impressive. A fountain is crowned with a winged image of Isis, and a row of ram-head sphinxes line the steps to the museum itself, surrounding a protective image of the hippopotamous goddess Tauert, who faces out to both welcome or warn visitors.
The Rosicrucians are a philosophical order inspired by the teachings of Ancient Egypt, particularly those ascribed to the "heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten, who is memorialized in a special garden pavilion open only to Rosicrucian members. The Museum itself is straightforward and indistinguishable from a purely secular collection though Amarna remains are substantial, taking up a gallery of their own as well as being represented in other areas.
While the museum boasts a few larger pieces, including a lovely statue of Sekhmet and a fascinating, snake-crowned statue of a Ptolemaic Queen recently identified by the British Museum as a rare in-the-round representation of Cleopatra VII*, the majority of the collection focuses on small objects, many collected by Rosicrucian leader Dr. H. Spencer Lewis who established the collection in the 1930's. Buttons, scarab amulets, toys, cosmetic tablets, coffin fragments, cartonnage mummy adornments, ritual musical instruments, and many other items invite careful scrutiny. Most items are accompanied by informative labels. There is also a well-displayed mummy room showing over a dozen mummies, sarcophagi, and animal mummies.
Extensive, finely-crafted models show different spots in Ancient Egypt and also offer a peek at the daily life of the ancient Egyptians.
The Rosicrucians fund research projects on Ancient Egypt and contribute to excavations in Egypt. A recent discovery was made on one of the Museum mummies - X-rays showed that the mummy of a priest, Usermontu, had a 9-inch pin in his leg, apparently the result of an operation done while he was alive, probably to stabilize his knee joint. Modern doctors who have examined the pure-iron pin note that it is similar in many respects to present-day medical devices to treat the same problem, and that the Egyptians were obviously aware of the ability of the metal flanges to assist in normal rotation of the knee.
One of the highlights of a visit to this museum is the full-scale reproduction of a Middle Kingdom Egyptian noble's tomb, including the entrance, hallway, and the tomb room itself. Guided tours are offered throughout the day.
The Museum shop, located inside the Museum, offers a selection of books, statuary, educational materials, and jewelry, and for the Egyptophile, it's worth a visit just for itself.
*Both of these items are presently on the road as part of the Museum's traveling exhibit, Women of the Nile.
Budget and Independent Travel to Egypt - Part I By Jimmy Dunn
Historical Hotels in Egypt - Part I By Jimmy Dunn
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
Hotel Reviews By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula
Nightlife Various Editors
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Medical Advice in Egypt By Dr. Sameh Arab, M.D.