Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs
An exhibition organized by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in collaboration with the National Geographic Society
"Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs", a new exhibition featuring more than 140 treasures from the tomb of the celebrated pharaoh Tutankhamun and additional ancient sites, will debut March 9 at the Völkerkunde Museum Vienna. This will be the only European stop for the exhibition during this tour, which is organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM).
The museum has experienced unprecedented demand for the exhibition, with a record number of presale tickets. Nearly 50,000 tickets have been sold since becoming available in December. "Tutankhamun´s magic still captures the hearts of people all over the world, even though more than seventy-five years have passed since the discovery of his amazing tomb", said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt´s Supreme Council of Antiquities. "Now, the Golden King is visiting Vienna for the first time, and he is bringing with him all the great pharaohs of Egypt. This exhibition will raise much-needed funds for the preservation of Egypt´s monuments, and the construction and renovation of museums throughout the country. I always say that Egyptian antiquities are the heritage of the world, and that we are only their guardians. Vienna, a city with its own remarkable cultural heritage, is the perfect place to start this tour. I know that all of Vienna will shine with the gold of Tutankhamun." "Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs" is the second National Geographic exhibition dedicated to the remarkable treasures of King Tutankhamun and ancient Egyptian royalty. The exhibition features striking objects from some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history, from the 4th Dynasty into the Late Period (about 2600 B.C. – 660 B.C.). "This exhibition will thrill anyone who has ever been fascinated with the ancient arts and culture of Egypt. It is also a unique opportunity to enjoy a close up experience of the treasure trove from Tutankhamun´s legendary tomb. The more than 140 objects present an entirely new and unique insight into the world of this ancient Egyptian ruler", said Dr. Wilfried Seipel, General Direktor des Kunsthistorischen Museums mit Museum für Völkerkunde und Österreichischem Theatermuseum (KHM).
Derived from a variety of contexts, including temples and royal and private tombs, the exhibition focuses on the splendor of the Egyptian pharaohs, their function in the earthly and divine worlds, and what kingship meant to the Egyptian people. More than 70 treasures from King Tutankhamun´s tomb and more than 70 representing other pharaohs and notables are presented along with the latest scientific research about King Tut.
"Egypt´s ancient treasures are among the world´s greatest cultural legacies", said Terry Garcia, executive vice president, National Geographic Society. "Even with the great wealth of research that already exists, new technologies continue to open up the past in ways never imagined. Visitors to this exhibit 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 recent CT scans conducted on his mummy."
Organized thematically, the first six galleries present life as a pharaoh and the king´s place in ancient Egypt. Visitors encounter more than 70 objects from some of the most powerful rulers of Egypt, such as Khefren, whose great pyramid is the only remaining of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Hatshepsut, the queen who became king, and Psusennes I, whose magnificent golden death mask is on display.
The first two galleries, "The Great Pharaohs", are dedicated to the major pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The next three – "Pharaoh´s Family and Private Life", "Pharaoh´s Court" and "Pharaoh´s Religion" – contain artifacts depicting the royal family, life in the court, and traditional and revolutionary ideology.
The sixth gallery, "Pharaoh´s Gold", is devoted to where the gold came from, what it meant and how it was used.
Step by step, visitors come closer to the treasures of King Tutankhamun and the world of the mysterious pharaoh. Each of the four galleries devoted to the boy king corresponds to the four rooms of his nearly intact tomb where the treasures were discovered by British explorer Howard Carter in 1922. Legendary artifacts from the antechamber, the annex, the treasury and the burial chamber include Tutankhamun´s golden sandals, jewelry, furniture, weaponry and statuary.
The exhibition includes the largest image of King Tut ever found – a 3-meter statue that originally may have stood at Tutankhamun´s mortuary temple and retains much of its original paint. One of the four gold and precious-stone-inlaid canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs also is exhibited. The final gallery features CT scans of Tutankhamun that were obtained as part of a landmark, Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by National Geographic, that will CT-scan the ancient mummies of Egypt.
Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt´s 18th Dynasty and ruled during a crucial, turmoil-filled period of Egyptian history. The boy king died under mysterious circumstances around age 18 or 19, in the ninth year of his reign (1323 B.C.). National Geographic Books has published a companion book to the exhibition, written by Zahi Hawass and printed in English and German.