Visitors to the Egyptian Museum in Central Cairo do not have long to admire the renowned golden mask of boy king Tutankhamun, which will leave its display cabinet in October to undergo intensive restoration work after being accidentally damaged by museum officials in August 2014.
Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh El-Damaty told Ahram Online that the restoration work is to be carried out according to the results of scientific studies conducted by the German-Egyptian archaeological committee in order to select the best method and materials to restore the mask.
El-Damaty pointed out that the restoration work is to be carried out inside a special room in the museum. This room, he says, is now equipped with state-of-the-art equipment required for the restoration of the mask. A high-tech security system which includes surveillance cameras has been installed in the room in order to supervise the restoration work minute-by-minute.
"So far, there is no set deadline for the restoration so as to guarantee efficient conservation work," El-Damaty said.
In January 2015, it was reported that the blue and gold beard of the king's mask was broken during a cleaning process at the Egyptian Museum, and that conservators hurriedly glued the beard back on with epoxy resin, damaging the artefact.
The Ministry of Antiquities held a press conference where experts asserted that the mask is safe and that the botched restoration is reversible.
El-Damaty immediately assigned a scientific archaeological committee, led by himself and assisted by German restorer Christian Eckmann, to carry out a study to discover the material used in the mask's restoration and how to safely remove it. The study also aimed to determine the best method and materials to use to efficiently restore the mask. The committee also included the director of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Tarek Tawfik, as well as a German CT-scan expert. The ministry has bought new CT scanning equipment to complete the study.
Eckmann travelled to Germany with the results of preliminary studies, where he created a gypsum replica of the mask using the proper materials. He is now in Cairo to start with his colleagues the restoration process.