The gold and glitter of ancient Egypt will remain in Los Angeles a little longer because the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibit “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” has extended its run by five days.
The exhibit showcases treasures from Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, or King Tut, several of his relatives and his 18th-dynasty contemporaries. It was originally scheduled to show from June 16 to Nov. 15, and has been extended until Nov. 20 due to popular demand, said Amber Meyers, assistant curator at LACMA.
With more than 850,000 tickets sold since the exhibition opened, “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” has become the second most popular exhibition in LACMA’s history, exceeded only by the 1978 visit of “Treasures of Tutankhamun.”
It has been 27 years since an exhibit showcasing King Tut’s life and history has been displayed in Los Angeles. The exhibition at LACMA is the first U.S. venue in a 27-month national tour.
Artifacts from Tut’s tomb were last displayed in the United States during a seven-city tour from 1976 to 1979.
The exhibit has not been able to leave Egypt for many years, Meyers said, because the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt passed a law in the 1980s stating that the Tut exhibit could no longer travel. The law resulted largely from the fact that an artifact was damaged in a German exhibition.
Archaeologist Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and director of the Giza and Saqqara pyramids, helped convince the Egyptian Legislature to reverse this ruling, and the exhibit was able to leave Egypt again, Meyers said.
The exhibit at LACMA presents “a good overview of the ancient period,” said Cynthia Colburn, assistant professor of art history at Pepperdine.
The exhibit not only includes the 50 artifacts that were showcased at the King Tut exhibit 27 years ago, Meyers said, but also 64 artifacts from other Valley of the Kings pharaohs.
Many visitors attending the exhibit have expected to see King Tut’s sarcophagus, which people think is depicted on the advertisement’s displayed throughout Los Angeles.
“A lot of people have come to see that and are disappointed about its absence,” Meyers said.
Junior Katie Dysert said she felt the representation on the ad was misleading.
However, the picture displayed on the ads is not of his famous sarcophagus, but of another artifact that is on display at LACMA.
“In the advertisement, the picture displayed is actually of an original coffinette that held Tut’s liver,” Meyers said.
This coffinette is a foot-high replica of King Tut’s coffin, she said, and it is one of four like it.
“Tut’s actual coffin is still in Egypt because the Egyptian Council would not let it move,” Meyers said.
Along with King Tut’s treasures, artifacts from many of his descendants can also be viewed.
For example, the museum has the golden funerary masks of Yuya and Tjuya, ancestors and predecessors of King Tut. This Egyptian couple’s artifacts, which were discovered in Egypt, were considered the greatest discovery in the Valley of the Kings before King Tut, Meyers said.
Colburn said she is pleased the exhibit presents more than just King Tut’s artifacts because Egyptian history does not focus on the young pharaoh.
“In the grand scheme of Egyptian history, Tut was a very insignificant ruler,” Colburn said. King Tut only reigned over ancient Egypt from age 8 until his death at age 20.
The reason he is so popular today is because his tomb was one of the only tombs found intact, Colburn said. It also happens to be one of the smallest tombs ever found, she added.
Dysert, who visited the King Tut exhibit in both Los Angles and Cairo, said she felt the exhibit was portrayed differently in Los Angeles than in Cairo. The Cairo exhibit contained more King Tut artifacts, while the exhibit at LACMA focuses on a stylish presentation, she said.
Though the LACMA exhibit did not contain as many artifacts as she would have liked, Dysert said she was pleased with the presentation and display at LACMA.
Colburn also visited the museum in Egypt, but said she would recommend it to even those who have been to Egypt and seen the exhibit there. She said LACMA’s exhibit is more accessible.
“It is important that museums of all countries make cultural heritage accessible,” said Colburn, who brought her students to see the exhibit. “The craftsmanship and wealth in Egypt cannot come across in a book.”
She said the exhibit will promote better understanding and appreciation of different world cultures.
Funds raised by the King Tut exhibit will go to the new Egyptian Museum that is being built in Gaza, Egypt, Meyers said.
Meyers said she is pleased with this effort because Egypt will now be able to afford a facility to properly handle and care for their artifacts.
Meyers said she urges people to take advantage of the extended run at LACMA.
“It is most likely not coming again,” she said.
After the exhibition ends its run in Los Angeles, it will travel to the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Ticket prices vary by date. Children under 5 are admitted free. Adult admission ranges from $15-$30.
For more information, visit www.lacma.org