More than a decade after the success of the second exhibition showing the treasures of the ancient Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun in the British capital, a new exhibition is scheduled to open in the Saatchi Gallery on Friday displaying more than 150 treasured pieces from the tomb of the young Pharaoh.
London was seized by Egyptomania this week as the treasures of the exhibit “Tutankhamun: The Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” started their journey from Paris to London as part of their worldwide tour. London is the third stop of the exhibition after Los Angeles and Paris. In Paris alone, the exhibition received more than 1.4 million visitors, a record for cultural exhibitions. The first ever exhibition in London in 1972 attracted 1.7 million visitors.
Once the tour is completed in 2022, the objects will return to their permanent home: the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza Plateau.
Streets, shops, buses, the subway, and train stations as well as the façades of buildings, hotels and restaurants all carried posters featuring various photos of the legendary Tut. One depicted the symbolic golden coffin of the boy king, one of the pieces in the exhibition. Some carried the photo of a gilded wooden statuette depicting the king riding a black leopard. Others depicted Ka, a wooden guardian statue with gilded head-dress and skirt and gold jewellery studded with precious coloured stones.
The mystery of the golden king has stirred up worldwide curiosity since the discovery of his tomb in 1922, and now, “Tutankhamun: The Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” is fascinating visitors yet again. “Around 300,000 tickets have been sold before the 1 November opening,” Tarek Al-Awadi, the coordinator of the exhibition at IMG, the organising company, told Al-Ahram Weekly. The exhibition features 150 pieces, 60 of which have never before been seen outside Egypt, and its theatrical design and exhibition scenario help to reconstruct the path of the king into the afterlife.
At Saatchi Gallery, workers, restorers and archaeologists are busy preparing the halls and installing the objects within its setting to meet the exhibition’s deadline.
The artefacts have travelled in custom-created inner and outer crates to ensure stability while in transit.
The items require 48 hours to acclimatise after being transported before the crates are opened, and there are specific controls for temperature and light inside the exhibition cases to keep them in top condition.
Due to high demand for the show, the organisers have announced extended morning and evening session tickets for the opening weeks of the exhibit.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.