King Tut’s Treasures Are Traveling the World for the Last Time

The largest-ever display of King Tut artifacts is going on view in London before returning to its final resting place Eygpt.

Wooden Guardian Statue of the King (Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 B.C.E.) ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy
Wooden Guardian Statue of the King (Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 B.C.E.) ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy.

It’s been billed the “mummy” of all King Tut shows—the largest collection of King Tutankhamun’s treasures ever to travel outside of Egypt: This November, the Saatchi Gallery in London will show more than 150 original artifacts from the by king’s tomb, 60 of which have never left Egypt before.

“Please see them, visit them, before they return back to Egypt forever,” said a statement from Mostafa Waziry, secretary general of the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities, which produced the show along with IMG (the owners of the Frieze Art Fair, which acquired Exhibitions International last January).

“TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,” which is open through May 3, 2020, celebrates the 1922 discovery of the tomb by British explorer Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon—the only Ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found intact.

“The pharaohs that succeeded Tutankhamun nearly managed to erase him from the history books. Had Howard Carter not persisted in his quest, the boy king’s legacy and treasures could have been forever lost to the sands of Egypt,” read a statement from the Saatchi Gallery.

<i>Gilded Wooden Bed</i> (Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 B.C.E.) ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

Gilded Wooden Bed (Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 B.C.E.) ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

The show is almost sure to be a blockbuster. Previous King Tut shows in London, in 1972 and 2007, drew record crowds of more than one million visitors each and those exhibitions contained fewer than 55 objects from the tomb—about a third the size of the upcoming show.

After its run in London, the show, which debuted in Los Angeles last year, is set to travel to a full 10 cities around the world. Afterward, the objects will return to Cairo, where they will be permanently housed alongside the full King Tut collection at the new Grand Egyptian Museum.

Colossal Statue. ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

Colossal Statue. ©Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

At the Saatchi, nine galleries will incorporate digital content, contextual material, and audio soundscapes to take visitors on a journey through Tutankhamun’s passage into everlasting life. They will also see how his funerary objects were used on the perilous journey.

“As millions get a final opportunity to see these ancient and exquisite objects in an immersive and personal context, we know Tutankhamun will continue to live large in the hearts of people around the world for generations to come,” said John Norman, managing director of exhibitions at IMG.

<i>Gold Inlaid Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun Dedicated to Imseti and Isis</i> (Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 B.C.E.) © Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

Gold Inlaid Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun Dedicated to Imseti and Isis (Reign of Tutankhamun 1336-1326 B.C.E.) © Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

Saatchi, which usually offers free admission, will institute an admission fee for the King Tut show, but says it has not yet determined what that will be.


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