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VIRTUAL FAMILY DAY – Celebrate African and African American Art: Egypt

Sun, Nov 8, 2020 | Goes Live at 11 am


Welcome to VMFA’s

Celebrate African and African American Art: Egypt

Thank you for joining us to celebrate the art and culture of Egypt at VMFA’s Virtual Family Day! Explore as we learn about Egypt through activities inspired by works of art in VMFA’s collection, performances, virtual gallery exploration, and more!

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Exploring Our Virtual Event

Welcome to our VIRTUAL Family Day! While we wish we could celebrate with you in person, we are delighted that you have joined us online!

Now it’s time to explore. On the event page below, you will find a variety of activities, videos, and resources. Take your time and check out all the activities shared below. The activities and presentations will be available to access through Nov 15.

Maybe you would like to watch vibrant performances and presentations, or maybe you would like to create your own work of art? All of these activities, resources, and more are listed below. Have fun, explore, and let your imagination roam!

Download the Agenda for the Event!

Download Here!

Performances, Presentations, and Demonstrations

Sit back and watch incredible performances and demonstrations! Follow the links provided below to view all presentations.

DJ Mikemetic

As a Curator of the Cultural Arts of the Diaspora, Mike Kemetic builds bridges between the glorious past and the dense afrofuturistic expansion that continues to propel African arts through our perception of space and time. For over a decade, his event Afro Beta has remained a foundational cultural entity within RVA’s music scene, while also tapping into the authentic and indigenous rhythms at the heart of dance music in the new millenium.

The images and music within these videos reflect a deep cultural alignment between Mike Kemetic’s audio expressions, VMFA’s annual African and African-American Art Family Day, Egyptian art, and the Afro Beta events that have generated so much positive cultural energy and awareness in the city of Richmond and many other cities since 2009. The outdoor footage was filmed at the Egyptian Building on the campus of MCV with the flying of the Pan-African red, black, and green flag as a statement of cultural and spiritual reclamation.

“As children of the Diaspora we continue to find ways to reconnect and reclaim culture through authentic expressions and feats of ancestral acknowledgement. Asé.” -Mike Kemetic
IG: @mikemetic
Twitter: @mikemetic

See the Videos

Elegba Folklore Society

Elegba Folklore Society presents The Coming Forth By Day for VMFA’s 2020 Virtual Celebrate African and African American Art: Egypt Family Day. Through dance, music, ritual and spoken word this piece explores divinity, the nature of existence, and the spirit of the water in Kemet (Egypt).

Learn more about the Elegba Folklore Society

Jay Sharpe

Renowned Richmond jeweler Jay Sharpe takes us into his studio to show us some of his process. Jay is well versed in the art of fine jewelry from designing and creating custom rings, earrings, pendants, watches and more! After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1990, Jay went on to own two jewelry shops-one in Carytown and one on Broad Street – in addition to creating wearable art for several high-profile celebrities. Jay started his practice at the Hand Workshop (now known as VisArts) in the 1990’s and in 2014 received the Master Teacher award from the Visual Art Center of Richmond. Jay continues to teach and work in the building where he began. Although the tools have changed over time, the skills needed and processes used to create wearable art today is similar to those used to make ancient Egyptian jewelry. You can follow Jay on Instagram @jay_sharpellc and Facebook @JaySharpeLLC.

See the Video

Virginia Repertory Theatre Presents, Tiny Tales: Art Inspired

Join Teaching Artists from the Virginia Repertory Theater, a nonprofit professional theater company,as they guide students through a fun, interactive, and multisensory journey, sparking imaginative play and creative exploration. Join us as we venture down the Nile, learning about ancient Egyptian customs, art, and culture. The program celebrates VMFA’s exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities, using creative drama.

See the Videos

Studio Two Three

Join Studio Two Three as they will show you how to start printmaking at home. From planning and creating to pulling your print, they will cover everything you need to know to get started. Most of the materials can be found around the house or at your local art store. Grab your markers and colored pencils and let’s get printing! Studio Two Three is a community art studio located in Richmond that offers studios, classes and workshops, artist residency, and open doors. They provide 24/7 access to printing presses, darkroom, digital lab, communal workspace, and individual studios to support art making for personal and social change. The studio is home to screenprinters, photographers, etchers, illustrators, quilters, comic book artists, and more!

Learn More About Studio Two Three Here

See the Demonstration

Egyptian Cuisine: Let’s Get Cooking!

Learn about the Egyptian dishes-Koshari and Khoshaf- and use Maha Shawky Whitfield’s recipe to make your own!

Maha Shawky Whitfield was born and educated in Egypt through private schooling and college. Maha’s family values education and personal growth. Maha’s father was a Three Stars General in the Egyptian army. In the 1973 war, her father was the general pharmacist for the Egyptian army. Before his retirement, he worked with the Egyptian First Lady, Mrs. Sadat, on several projects for military veterans. Maha’s mother was a homemaker, active in charitable work, Maha’s school, and the overall community.

After finishing college and traveling in Europe, Maha worked as a guide (of 3 different languages) for 11 years in Egypt. Maha was married in 1985, and moved to Virginia with her husband. Maha has 2 children-Sophie and Alex- and for 20 years she has volunteered with children and taught classes on Ancient Egypt in elementary schools.

See the Koshari Recipe See the Koshaf Recipe

Exhibition Tour with Dr. Peter Schertz

Get an inside look into the on-view exhibition-Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities. Follow Dr. Peter Schertz, VMFA’s Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art, as he walks you through the exhibition and provides background information on many of the works.

Learn more about Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities here

See the Tour

Art Activities

It’s time to make art! Check out the art activities listed below. Under each art activity title and description, you will find a “how-to” video and an activity resource document with instructions and a list of supplies needed to complete each project.

Create an Ancient Egyptian-Inspired Amulet

Follow the instructions included here to create your own amulet inspired by ancient Egyptian amulets!

Want to try this project using polymer clay? Join VMFA Youth Studio Educator Alex Parrish for a Virtual Arts Sparks here!

See the Instructional Video Download the Instructions

Make a Paper Cat Sculpture

Make your own paper cat sculpture and learn about the importance of cats in Ancient Egypt. Follow the instructions provided here to begin your project.

See the Instructional Video Download the Instructions

Construct an Egyptian-Inspired Paper Boat

Use the printable boat template provided below to construct a paper boat. Learn about Egyptian boats and the importance of the Nile River. Follow the instructions provided here to begin your project.

See the Instructional Video Download the Instructions Download the Template

Virtual Gallery Activities

Explore the galleries virtually! See works of art from the museum’s permanent collection, and then participate in activities listed below:

Explore the Ancient Egyptian Galleries at VMFA
Explore VMFA’s Ancient Egyptian galleries from home! Follow the link provided below for a virtual view. Here, you will see the types of art works on display in the museum.
As you look around, consider:

  • What types of objects do you see?
  • How are they displayed?
  • If you could visit in person, what might you be interested in looking at first?


Yes! The objects displayed in these galleries are real examples of art made during Ancient Egypt’s 3,000-year history. By caring for and studying these objects in museums like VMFA, we are able to connect with people from thousands of years ago, consider how they understood the world around them, and explore how they visually shared stories and ideas with one another.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a scholar or an art specialist to take a closer look and begin exploring. All you need is a little bit of time and some curiosity!


Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Egyptian Gallery Mary Morton Parsons Gallery Photo: Travis Fullerton ©Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Interactive Map: Where Is Egypt?

Egypt is a country on the continent of Africa. Ancient Egyptian civilization developed along the Nile, one of the longest rivers in the world. Egyptians called their land kemet, which meant “black land,” after the rich soil that fed Egypt’s crops. Ancient Egypt was protected by natural borders including deserts to the east and west and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Check out the interactive map included below.

SURPRISE ME! Explore Naos of the Decade

Click on the pop-up hot spots on the image of the naos below to reveal intriguing information about this reconstructed puzzle!

This object is called the Naos of the Decades. A naos is a container for a sacred object. Today, we often use the word “shrine” for this type of container. An ancient Egyptian calendar is carved into the outside stone wall of this naos. It shows that the ancient Egyptian year was divided into 36 decades, or ten-day periods, which explains why this is called the naos “of the Decades.”

Like many other Late Period (664-332) shrines, this naos was carved from a single block of stone. The inscription and image on the back wall of a hollow area inside the shrine tell us that this naos was dedicated to the creator god Shu.
This naos was reconstructed—piece by piece—over the past 200 years. The roof was found in 1777, near the site of the sunken city of Canopus, which at the time was yet to be discovered. Many years later, in 1933, the base and back wall were found underwater in Aboukir Bay. Finally, in 1999, when the archaeologists of the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) discovered four more sections, they were able to piece the shrine together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Egyptian Gods & Goddesses Matching Game

Religion was very important to the lives of ancient Egyptians, and they worshipped hundreds of gods and goddesses. The gods and goddesses were often shown with the head of the animal with which they shared powerful qualities.

Can you match the god or goddess to the animal they look like? Play the matching game below.

Egyptian Gods and Goddesses Flashcards

Learn about the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt here, and then write your answers into the flashcards below.

Amun-Gereb–The god who gave pharaohs the right to rule Egypt.

Apis–A sacred, or special, bull who could predict the future.

Horus–An Egyptian god of the sky, usually shown with the head of a falcon.

Isis–The Egyptian goddess of magic. She was the sister and wife of Osiris and mother to Horus.

Osiris–The Egyptian god of the underworld and rebirth. He was the brother and husband of Isis and father to Horus.

Serapis–A new god created by the Greeks in Egypt that combined the Egyptian gods Osiris and Apis with the Greek gods Zeus and Hades.

Seth–God of deserts, chaos, violence, and foreigners. Seth was brother to Osiris and Isis.

Shu–The Egyptian god of air and peace.

Taweret–The Egyptian goddess who was the protector of pregnancy and childbirth. She appears as a combination of a lion, a crocodile, and a hippopotamus.

Test your Knowledge: Fill in the Blank

Ancient Egyptians believed that everything they knew and experienced was part of a cycle, from the annual flood of the Nile River that nourished their land to the daily rising and setting of the sun. Even their own lives were a cycle, which moved from birth to death to rebirth. Explore more about Egyptian life here and then test your knowledge in the quiz below.

Ancient Egyptian Gallery Guide-Activities and More!

Have fun using this Ancient Egypt family activity booklet from home to help you explore the collection! Test your hand at hieroglyphs and learn all about Ancient Egypt. Follow the link below to get started.

See the Booklet

Collection Engagement Activity

Examine this ancient Egyptian work titled Boat Model and then follow the prompts/activities below to learn more about this work.

Boat Model, 2010 – 1961 BC, Egyptian
Medium: wood coated with plaster, painted

Information: The large number of boat models reflects the Nile’s importance in Egyptian life: the river was Egypt’s main road and an important source of food (fish and waterfowl). Boats were also important in funerary rituals and myths. A burial usually included two or more boat models, at least one rigged for sailing (south, upstream on the Nile) and another for rowing (north, downstream). This model comes from the tomb of Djehutynakht, which contained 55 boat models, probably the largest group found in any Middle Kingdom tomb.

Looking to Learn: Ten Times Two

Look at the image or object quietly for at least 30 seconds. Let your eyes wander.
List 10 words or phrases about any aspect of the artwork.
Look at the image again and try to add at least 10 more words or phrases to your list.

What Makes you Say That?

There are two simple questions for this activity. The first question asks for an interpretation. The second asks for justification.
Who/what could this be?
What do you see that makes you say that?

Looking to Learn: I See, I Think, I Wonder

What do you see?
What do you think about that?
What does it make you wonder?

Learn about Ancient Egyptian Culture

Learn all about Egyptian land, religion, writing, trade, and of course mummies!

See more here!

Explore More: Community Connections & Other Resources

Egypt-Inspired Reading List

Discover Egypt through children’s books! Check out our recommended book list for exploring more.

Egypt-Inspired Listening List

Check out music and musicians inspired by Egypt!

Explore More at VMFA

Visit VMFA’s Special Exhibition-Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities

On view through JAN 18, 2021
Tickets Required. Limited capacity. Advance reservations strongly recommended.

Dive into one of the most astonishing underwater discoveries of all time. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presents Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities. The exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see treasures recovered from two powerful ancient Egyptian cities that sank into the Mediterranean more than a thousand years ago. Destroyed by natural catastrophes in the 8th century, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were once mighty centers of trade, where Egyptian and Greek cultures merged in art, worship, and everyday life.

Learn More Here

Sunken Cities Gallery Guide

Sunken Cities Family Guide

Sunken Cities Audio Guide

Sunken Cities Resource

Accessing VMFA’s Library

The Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the oldest and one of the most extensive art resources in Virginia, with visual arts reference material that addresses virtually all the humanities. In addition to serving museum staff, it also acts as a non-circulating library for scholars, students, researchers, writers, and the general public.

To help limit the risks of COVID-19, the Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library the space is currently being redesigned to ensure public safety and to maintain physical distancing. The library is open by appointment only. You can explore the library’s digital collections online. For reference assistance, please contact the library at or 804.340.1495.

Learn More

View Digital Collections


The VMFA Shop searches the world to provide a diverse selection of unique jewelry, home accessories, toys, stationery, and books, focusing on merchandise related to the museum’s collections and exhibitions as well as educational items and work from Virginia artists.

Explore VMFA’s Shop here

Explore More on VMFA Learn

Watch artist videos and engage with more art from around the world!

See Artist Videos See Art from Around the World

Exploring e-Books

Interested in exploring and accessing free e-books through your local library? Check out apps such as Hoopla and The Libby App (OverDrive) that will connect you with e-books for a virtual reading experience. Please note, you need a library card to access e-books and other resources on these apps.

Learn More About the Libby App

Learn More About the Hoopla App

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