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Exhibitions on Lewis and Clark, ancient Egypt and Petra, and the Wright brothers are among this season's history museum blockbusters.

September 28, 2003|Jane Engle | Times Staff Writer

History curators will turn over a new leaf next month, as museums open engrossing autumn shows that shed light on the past. Among them:

* Louisville, Ky., and Clarksville, Ind.: A celebration Oct. 14 to 26 of the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's expedition will include several exhibits, a historic encampment Oct. 14 to 19, a river festival Oct. 24 to 26, performances and other special events. For a schedule, visit www.lewisandclark1803.com.

* New Orleans: This will be the latest stop on a U.S. tour of "The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt," which opened last year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and is said to contain the largest collection of antiquities ever loaned by Egypt for display in North America. Focusing on ancient concepts of the afterlife and the relationship to the divine, it will include a reconstruction of the burial chamber of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479-1426 BC).

New Orleans Museum of Art, Oct. 19 to Feb. 25. Adult admission $17 (includes museum entrance and audio tour). Information: (504) 488-2631, www.noma.org. Tickets available at the door or, with additional service and processing fees, through Ticketmaster, (800) 488-5252, www.ticketmaster.com.

* New York: "Petra: Lost City of Stone" is billed as the most comprehensive exhibit ever presented on the magnificent Middle Eastern metropolis that was carved out of red sandstone cliffs more than 2,000 years ago.

Ancient Petra, which is in present-day Jordan, was a crossroads of silk and spice trade routes, overseen by the shrewd Nabateans, that linked the Far East with Europe. Among 200 objects in the exhibit are a monumental frieze, ceramics, metalwork, ancient inscriptions and 19th century depictions of the settlement.

American Museum of Natural History, Oct. 18 to July 6. Exhibit admission is $19 for adults (includes museum entrance). (212) 769-5100, www.amnh.org. (The exhibit, co-curated by the Cincinnati Art Museum, opens there next September.)

* Washington, D.C.: The world's first motor-driven airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, will be the centerpiece of "The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age," marking the centennial of powered flight.

The plane, which Wilbur and Orville Wright flew for the first time Dec. 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, N.C., will be moved from its regular hanging display at the National Air and Space Museum onto the floor for close-up viewing of the engine.

Other highlights include a rare Wright-built bicycle, the stopwatch used to time the historic flights, replicas of experimental Wright gliders and personal letters. Opens Oct. 12; expected to run about two years. Free. (202) 357-2700, www.nasm.si.edu.

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