Gallery workers in London are busily mounting the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s treasures to ever travel outside of Egypt.
The exhibition is being billed as a “last chance” for visitors to see the artifacts before they permanently return to Egypt, to be housed in a new museum.
London’s Saatchi Gallery is being filled with treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb. The gallery will soon open a new exhibition of artifacts from the tomb of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (Tutankhamen). It’s called “Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh”.
Organizers say the 150 exhibits are travelling outside Egypt for the last time. Afterwards, they will go on display at the new Grand Egyptian Museum near the Giza pyramids, which is set to open late next year.
Organizers say the exhibition will explore the meaning of the burial items in the royal tomb. Sixty objects on display are on their first journey outside of Egypt.
“The total number of the artifacts we are travelling with is 150. And this is for the first time Egypt allowed this number to travel outside Egypt,” says curator Tarek El Awady.
“This is the biggest exhibition of Tutankhamun and also for the first time with the concept of why the ancient Egyptian(s) buried treasures in the royal tombs.”
Tutankhamun ascended the throne at age nine, ruling until his death at age 18 or 19.
The exhibition was assembled to commemorate the upcoming centenary of British archaeologist Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s intact tomb and the treasures it held.
“It’s everything around Tutankhamun. The story of the discovery, you know, what happened during the discovery. How the media dealt with the discovery and the story of the curse of the mummy, the curse of the Tutankhamun,” says El Awady. “And all the first exhibitions outside Egypt for Tutankhamun, you know, and the stories about people grouping in long, huge rows waiting for getting their ticket to the exhibition.”
It’s the exhibition’s last stop on a global ten-city tour that started in Los Angeles.
The previous stop, in Paris, became the most visited French exhibition of all time, with 1.4 million visitors. Hopes are high for similar numbers in the British capital. A 1972 Tutankhamun exhibition at the British Museum saw almost 1.7 million visitors during its nine-month run, over 7,000 visitors per day.
“It’s very important that people can see these things and appreciate them and get excited about them,” says Egyptologist Dr. Chris Naunton.
But what of the alleged curse, thought by some to be placed on those who disturb the tombs?
El Awady says many accidents befell tomb robbers. Others found inventive ways around them.
“The tomb robbers, they believed in this magic,” he says. “So, what they will do when they attempt to rob a tomb, the first thing is to look at the curse inscriptions on the corners of the tomb and to smash it, to break it, to make sure that it doesn’t exist anymore and then enter the tomb.”
For many, “King Tut” is the ultimate symbol of ancient Egypt’s glory.
“It is (a) well known fact Tutankhamen is Egypt’s best ambassador to the world,” says El Awady.
“When Egypt has a problem, you know, the first one to solve it is Tutankhamun. And it happens many times, yes. Tutankhamun did many things, but also Tutankhamun enjoyed travelling the world.”
“Tutankhamun, Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” opened at London’s Saatchi Gallery on Nov. 2 and will run until May 3, 2020.