King Tut exhibit begins another run in the US


Mike Stone, The Associated Press

By Jamie Stengle

DALLAS – An exhibit showcasing items buried in the Egyptian tomb of King Tut is back in the United States.

“Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” opened over the weekend at the Dallas Museum of Art, the first of three museums to host the exhibit’s encore tour. The other two host cities have yet to be named. At least 1 million visitors are expected in Dallas.

“We look at this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Bonnie Pitman, director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

The exhibit, in Dallas through May 17, features four artifacts that are part of the last tour, including a necklace, a bracelet and two nested miniature coffins that contained a mummified female fetus. The fetus is not part of the exhibit, but a photograph shows the mummy in the coffin. DNA testing is being done in Egypt to determine whether that fetus and another fetus found in the tomb are Tut’s offspring.

About 4 million people visited the exhibit as it toured four U.S. cities from 2005 to 2007. At the end of August, the exhibit wrapped up a run in London that brought in about 1 million visitors. Treasures from King Tut first came to the United States in the late 1970s with a seven-city tour that attracted almost 8 million visitors.

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    “Tut mania is back,” said John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International, an organizer of the exhibit.

    The exhibit features about 130 objects – more than twice the number in the 1970s show – including more than 50 of Tut’s burial objects such as a golden crown Howard Carter discovered still on the head of the mummy. About 80 objects from the tombs of other royals and those with connections to the royal family will also be on display.

    The Tut death mask, a showstopper of the 1970s run, won’t be displayed because it’s no longer allowed out of Egypt. But David Silverman, national curator for the exhibit, said the show helps tell more of the story of Tut.

    “What impressed me most was it told the story of his family – almost a century of time,” said Silverman, an Egyptology professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Those involved in the show say several factors contribute to the fascination with Tut: becoming king at age 9; his mysterious death at 19; and the discovery of his nearly intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922.

    Images from the photographer who accompanied Carter and documented the discovery of the tomb are on view with the Tut exhibit for the first time in Dallas. “That discovery captured the hearts of everyone, everywhere,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

    One of the enduring mysteries is how Tut died. Hawass said that a scan in recent years reveled that Tut fractured a leg shortly before he died, and Hawass believes Tut died from complications from that break. Some say damage to Tut’s skull that earlier scholars said pointed to murder probably was just part of the embalming process.

    Organizers say a majority of the proceeds will be used to help preserve Egypt’s antiquities, including the construction of a new museum in Cairo. Hawass said Egypt makes about $10 million for every city the exhibit visits.