The Temple of Dendur is a holy site that dates back to the reign of Augustus Caesar. It is now housed inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art where it is surrounded by a little moat, containing a stone alligator. We expect art in a museum. After seeing the Elgin Marbles, I was not even particularly surprised to find the sanctity of a dead religion revalued as objets d’art, collectible and decorative. What struck me was the placement of the temple, alone in a vast room and situated in the middle of water, such a strange feature in a museum. It was as though they were trying, in their own way, to work against the slight devaluation that occurs when a thing loses its aura of fear and divinity and instead gains one of selection and good taste. For one moment, it returned to the temple its rightful sense of awe. This girl, so enthralled in attempting to create a seperate piece of art out of this statue that clearly made her wary and fascinated seemed to embody the proper way to approach the temple.
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