(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —
Marking the first time the treasures of Tutankhamun (King Tut) have visited America in 26 years, National Geographic, AEG LIVE Exhibitions and Arts and Exhibitions International, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, will bring an extensive exhibition of more than 130 treasures from the tomb of the celebrated pharaoh, other Valley of the Kings tombs and additional ancient sites to the United States on a 27-month tour beginning in Los Angeles on June 16, 2005. "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" will appear at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)– June 16–November 15; Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale–December 2005; and The Field Museum, Chicago–May 2006. At least one more museum is being sought; special admission ticket price to the exhibit has been set at $30.
"Since the discovery of his tomb in 1922, Tutankhamun has captured the hearts of people around the world. Buried with him were treasures beyond the imagination, giving us a glittering glimpse into the past," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and director of the Giza and Saqqara Pyramids. "It has been almost 30 years since the golden artifacts of the boy-king last left their home in Egypt. Now Tutankhamun is back, giving a new generation the chance to learn firsthand about the life and magic of this ancient monarch."
The exhibition will include 50 major objects excavated from Tutankhamun's tomb, including his royal diadem — the gold crown discovered encircling the head of the king's mummified body that he likely wore while living — and one of the gold and precious stone inlaid canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs.
More than 70 objects from other royal graves of the 18th Dynasty (1555 B.C.-1305 B.C.) will be showcased as well, including those of pharaohs Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV and the rich, intact tomb of Yuya and Tuyu, parents-in-law of Amenhotep III and great-grandparents of Tutankhamun. Yuya and Tuyu's tomb was the most celebrated historical find in the Valley of the Kings until Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun's undisturbed burial chamber in 1922. All of the treasures in the exhibit are between 3,300 and 3,500 years old.
"Egypt's ancient treasures are among the world's greatest cultural legacies, and we're delighted that U.S. audiences will have an opportunity to view some of the most important artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb and other famous sites," said Terry Garcia, National Geographic's executive vice president for mission programs. "The exhibit, which builds on National Geographic's long and valued relationship with Egypt, will further promote cultural understanding between our two countries." Revenue generated from the world tour will go toward preserving Egypt's treasures and building a new Grand Museum in Cairo.
Some of the treasures from Tutankhamun's tomb were last displayed in the United States during a seven-city tour from 1976–1979, which attracted some eight million visitors and set traveling exhibition attendance records. Both LACMA and The Field Museum hosted that original Tutankhamun tour and will once again participate in the new exhibition tour.
"We are honored to work with such a prestigious team of partners, including National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International, to bring this important exhibit to America," said Timothy J. Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG. "As it travels from city to city, millions will have the opportunity to view into the reaches of the past and be impacted by the rich culture and history the artifacts represent."
"Tutankhamun commands such universal appeal that we expect people of all ages to become engaged in the exhibit, especially as it bridges both art and cultural aspects of the time," said John Meglen, president and CEO of Concerts West and officer, AEG Live Exhibitions.
"The previous King Tut tour in the 1970s was a major cultural phenomenon and to some extent coined the term 'blockbuster,'" said John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International. "This amazing exhibition promises to exceed everyone's expectations, and we are confident we can set the 'blockbuster' standard for the next 25 years."
National Geographic will publish a companion book to the exhibit in May 2005. "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" by Zahi Hawass will feature the fabulous artifacts found in Tutankhamun's tomb and treasures of other 18th-Dynasty pharaohs. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen