Associated Press
A large sculpture from Britain's exhibit of ancient Egyptian art.

OKLAHOMA CITY — No need to jump a jet to London to tour the British Museum's Egyptian art exhibit, which has the largest collection outside of Cairo, Egypt.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is the first stop of a five-city tour of an 85-piece exhibit from The British Museum titled "Temples and Tombs: Treasures of Egyptian Art From The British Museum."

Hardy George, chief curator for the museum, said the items are representative of the rule of the pharaohs, from around 2686 B.C. to the fourth century A.D.

"The timeliness of the art will be felt by those that visit this exhibit," George said. "There is something of grandeur and the feeling of permanence in these items."

There is also variety.

With items constructed of stone, glass, gold, papyrus and terra cotta, the largest is the red granite "Lion of Amenhotepp III reinscribed for Tutankhamun" that weighs 6,000 pounds and the smallest, a gold, 3/4-inch lion bead.

A crew of 12, including three staffers from The British Museum, have been working since Aug. 21 to ensure that the exhibit is ready when it opens Thursday. The Egyptian art treasures will be on view in Oklahoma City until Nov. 26.

Items are divided into four themes:

— Objects from the lives of artists and nobles.

— The king and the temple.

— Statues of Egyptians.

— Items found in the tombs that relate to death and the afterlife.

"In designing the areas for this exhibit, we used the same design elements used by the Egyptians, which is the triangle," Carolyn Hill, the Oklahoma museum's executive director, said. "I just loved working on this."

Amulets, a kohl pot, a glass bottle in the shape of a fish and a scribe's palette are among the treasures displayed in a section on the lives of artists and nobles.

"One of the objects I found most interesting was a girl carrying a trunk, but in reality the trunk is really a cosmetic vessel," George said.

While the items in the first two sections were found in tombs and excavations of homes and temples, they are objects that were used by the living or viewed by the living. The last two sections showcase items that were to be buried with the kings, including statues of the king and family members, as well as statues to hold the spirit of the deceased.

Two examples of a papyrus, "Book of the Dead," which Egyptians believed would be needed in the afterlife, are included in the exhibit's final section.

There are no mummies on view, but a wooden coffin lid, made around 1000 B.C., still shows colorful designs that have been painted and then varnished.

During the run of the show, the museum will offer related events, including an Egyptian-themed dinner at the Museum Cafe, lectures and a film screening concerning Egyptian life and Egyptian related classes.

"Temples and Tombs" next travels to the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla.; the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, N.C.; the Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, N.M.; and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art and Science, Fresno, Calif.