In 2004, when Egypt sent some of Tutankhamun’s collection to Basil city in Switzerland as the first leg of a seven-year touring exhibition abroad, many archaeologists applauded it as a good and free promotion of Egyptian heritage. In addition, some saw it as a possible financial source for restoring monuments and building museums. Meanwhile, some archaeologists fought against the tour, fearing the loss of these distinguished artefacts.
Two years later, another part of Tutankhamun’s collection was sent to Los Angeles as the first stop on a six-year touring exhibition abroad. But following the January 25 revolution, and the fall of the Mubarak regime, reassessment of such exhibitions has created friction between those archaeologists who support the tour of artefacts, and those who oppose it.
Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), decided to bring the issue before the Antiquities Permanent Committee, the SCA’s Administration Board and the Foreign Exhibition Committee in order to vote on whether to continue the tour of exhibitions or not.
Abdel Maqsoud told Ahram Online that he agrees with the continuation of these exhibitions, because withdrawal now would be expensive for the SCA. “The SCA has to pay for the shipment of the artefacts, the insurance and penalties,” he pointed out.
The Melbourne exhibition is scheduled to return to Egypt on November 2011, while the one in Minnesota will return in 2012.