Treasures From King Tut’s Tomb Are Heading to London Before Returning to Egypt Forever. See Highlights Here

Nearly half of the items have never left Egypt before.

Wooden guardian statue of the Ka of the King wearing the Nemes headcloth. Image courtesy of IMG.

The largest-ever trove of treasures from King Tut’s tomb is coming to London on the third stop of a world tour that will end with the artifacts being returned home to Egypt forever.

The 150 items are included in the exhibition “TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,” which will run November 2, 2019, through May 3, 2020 at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Eventually they will be permanently housed at the forthcoming Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is being built at a cost of more than $1 billion.

The public has had a seemingly endless fascination with the boy king since his tomb was discovered a century ago by the British Egyptologist Howard Carter and the financier Lord Carnarvon. The 1922 discovery remains the only Ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found intact, and exhibitions in London, in 1972 and then 2007, drew record crowds of well over one million visitors.

London is the third stop on a grand 10-city tour, which began at Los Angeles’s California Science Center, where it attracted some 711,000 visitors, followed by Paris’s Grande Halle de la Villette, where it drew more than 1.4 million visitors, becoming France’s most-attended exhibition of all time, according to the talent and event management company IMG. Future tour destinations include the Australia Museum in Sydney in 2021, followed by locations in Japan, Canada, and South Korea, among others that are yet to be announced.


Tutankhamun's Wishing Cup in the Form of an Open Lotus. Image courtesy Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy.

Tutankhamun’s wishing cup in the form of an open lotus. Image courtesy of Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy.

For the exhibition, 60 artifacts have left Egypt for the first time. Curator Tarek El-Awady tells artnet News that moving and transporting the precious treasures required a “well-studied and planned protocol.” This included specially designed crates and packing materials, as well as condition reports and preservation guidelines.

“Tutankhamun’s treasure is not only ancient artifacts, but it is also the most precious treasure from the ancient world, and the only treasures found intact of a king from Egypt’s new kingdom,” El-Awady says.

A Passage Into the Afterlife

The primary focus of the exhibition is the meaning of the burial items in the royal tomb. The artifacts include a statue of Tutankhamun, a gilded wooden bed, a shield, shrines, and a wishing cup, to help the golden pharaoh on his journey into the afterlife.

At the Saatchi Gallery, the story of the funerary objects will be told through nine galleries that incorporate digital content, contextual material, audio and custom soundscapes. There will also be some recent discoveries made possible with the help of modern technologies such as CT-scans and DNA analysis.   

“The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb is a timeless story known throughout the world, and this exhibition will present these important historical artifacts in a highly innovative way through immersive displays,” Saatchi Gallery director Philippa Adams says in a statement. “We are thrilled and honored to be hosting this culturally significant exhibition.”

Gilded Wooden “Ostrich Hunt” Fan. Image courtesy IMG.

Gilded wooden “Ostrich Hunt” fan. Image courtesy of IMG.

Timed tickets are available for purchase online, with adult tickets during peak hours costing upwards of £37.40. While exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery are typically free to the public, the exhibition has been produced by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and events company IMG to raise funds for the forthcoming Giza museum, which has a planned footprint of 5.2 million square feet.

El-Awady stresses that this could be many visitors” last chance” to see the treasures before they’re permanently installed in Egypt.

The museum will cover 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian history, housing more than 100,000 artifacts. Tutankhamun’s treasure was previously housed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but fewer than 2,000 objects could be displayed at one time because of space constraints. In the new home, which is slated to open in 2020, there will be room for all the treasure to be displayed at once. See more items from the exhibition below.

“TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,” will run November 2, 2019, through May 3, 2020 at the Saatchi Gallery in London. 

Gilded Wooden Figure of Tutankhamun on a Skiff, Throwing Harpoon. Image courtesy IMG.

Gilded wooden figure of Tutankhamun on a skiff, throwing harpoon. Image courtesy of IMG.

Gold Inlaid Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun Dedicated to Imseti and Isis. Image courtesy IMG.

Gold inlaid Canopic coffinette of Tutankhamun Dedicated to Imseti and Isis. Image courtesy of IMG.

Wooden Ceremonial Shield with King as Sphinx Trampling on Nubian Enemies. Image courtesy IMG.

Wooden ceremonial shield with king as sphinx trampling on Nubian enemies. Image courtesy of IMG.

Wooden Gilded Mirror Case in Form of an Ankh, Inlaid with Blue Glass and Carnelian. Image courtesy IMG.

Wooden gilded mirror case in form of an ankh, inlaid with blue glass and carnelian. Image courtesy of IMG.

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