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Exhibition in Minnesota Brings to Life the Discovery of King Tutankhamun's Tomb
Third grade students from the Mississippi Arts Creative Magnet School in St. Paul, Minn. wear Egyptian-style headdresses at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn. on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 as they study a statue of Amenemhat III. He ruled from 1860-1814 B.C.E. The piece is part of the exhibit "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" which opened on Friday. (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Chris Polydoroff.

ST. PAUL, MINN.- Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, an exhibition featuring more than 100 authentic treasures from the tomb of the celebrated pharaoh and other notable ancient sites, made its debut at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Friday, February 18, 2011. The exhibition marks the very first time that King Tut’s treasures have visited the region, providing visitors with the rare chance to see the boy king’s famed artifacts. It will run through September 5, 2011.

The exhibition is organized by the National Geographic Society, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Proceeds from the tour will go toward antiquities preservation and conservation efforts in Egypt, including the construction of a new grand museum in Giza.

“Tutankhamun’s magic still captures the hearts of people all over the world, even though more than 85 years have passed since the discovery of his amazing tomb,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

At 16,000 square feet, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs is the largest exhibition the Science Museum has ever hosted. The exhibition features stunning objects from King Tut’s tomb, as well as from the tombs of some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. Many of these artifacts have never visited the United States prior to this exhibition tour, and St. Paul will be the only place in the U.S. where visitors can experience a collection of treasures from the young king’s tomb.

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs will give Science Museum visitors a glimpse inside the ancient Egypt they learned about in school, exploring the mystery and intrigue of this fascinating time period. Visitors will witness the splendor of the pharaohs, learn about their function in both the earthly and divine worlds, and discover how they prepared for the afterlife. They’ll see artifacts from powerful Egyptian rulers, including beautifully crafted statues of Khafre, builder of the Great Sphinx and one of the pyramids at Giza; Hatshepsut, the queen who became a pharaoh; and King Tut’s father, Akhenaten.

The exhibition’s final galleries are dedicated to King Tut’s famous tomb, including an area devoted to its discovery by British explorer Howard Carter in 1922. Visitors will see legendary artifacts displayed in four galleries according to where they were located in the tomb’s four rooms —the antechamber, annex, treasury and burial chamber.

Highlights of the exhibition include:
• The beautifully-adorned gold canopic coffinette that held Tutankhamun’s mummified stomach.

• The largest image of King Tut ever unearthed — a 10-foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials. The statue still retains much of its original paint.

• Golden sandals, etched with a pattern of woven reeds, which covered Tutankhamun’s feet when Howard Carter unwrapped his mummy in 1923.

• One of the largest Tutankhamun shabtis, funerary figures that were meant to perform work for the king in his afterlife, uncovered from the tomb’s antechamber.

• A 7-foot colossal statue of Akhenaten (recently proven by DNA evidence to be King Tut’s father) that once enhanced the colonnade of the king’s temple to the Aten at East Karnak.

• A gallery devoted to the golden treasures of the pharaohs of Egypt, including jewelry, vessels, weaponry, and the solid gold funerary mask of Psusennes I, which lay over the head, chest and part of the shoulders of the mummy.

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs also brings to light recent scientific discoveries providing insight into King Tut’s legendary life and death. The exhibition features the first 3D CT scans of the great king’s mummy, which were obtained as part of a landmark Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by the National Geographic Society. The scans were captured through the use of a portable CT scanner donated by Siemens Medical Solutions.

“Even with the great wealth of research that already exists, new technologies continue to open up the past in ways never imagined,” says Terry Garcia, executive vice president, National Geographic Society. “Visitors to this exhibition will not only see stunning artifacts spanning 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history, but they will also learn more about the life and death of Tutankhamun through CT scans conducted on his mummy.”

“The previous King Tut tour in the 1970s was a major cultural phenomenon and, to some extent, coined the term ‘blockbuster,’” says John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International. “King Tut still has that same draw and it’s a privilege for us to enable Americans to see these important world treasures and play a critical role in preserving them for future generations.”

The Science Museum’s staging of Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs continues a multi-year trend of major exhibitions. Having hosted past exhibitions like A Day in Pompeii, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, and The Dead Sea Scrolls, the museum’s exhibition and conservation teams have proven that they have what it takes to care for and display priceless artifacts. The fact that the Science Museum has successfully hosted exhibits of this stature and national esteem is a testament to its reputation among museums and science centers around the world.

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February 20, 2011

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