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Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) to Present Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs

Texas debut for this landmark exhibition, with more than 100 objects from the tomb of King Tut and other legendary ancient sites

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) will host Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, an acclaimed exhibition featuring more than 100 artifacts, most of which had never been shown in the U.S. prior to this tour.

The exhibition opens October 13, 2011, and will be on view through April 15, 2012. Visitors will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the spectacular treasures, more than half of which come from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. These include the golden sandals that were found on the boy king´s mummy, a gold coffinette that held his stomach, golden statues of the gods, his rings, ear ornaments and gold collar.

“This exhibition is a landmark event for Houston,” said Dr. Peter Marzio, director of the MFAH. “I am thrilled that the MFAH will bring these extraordinary treasures here, and that Houston is among the few cities, along with Vienna, Atlanta, Denver and Toronto, that have had the privilege of hosting the most important exhibition of art from ancient Egypt since the original King Tut show toured the world in the 1970s. It´s a Who´s Who of Egypt´s most important ancient rulers.”

The exhibition is organized under the direction of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and its Secretary General, Dr. Zahi Hawass, by the National Geographic Society, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions. Major proceeds from the tour will support the preservation and conservation of antiquities and monuments in Egypt, as well as the construction of the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

“Tutankhamun´s magic still captures the hearts of people all over the world, even though nearly 90 years have passed since the discovery of the amazing tomb,” said Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt´s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

About the Exhibition
Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs features treasures associated with the most important rulers of the 30 dynasties that ruled Egypt over a 2,000 year span. The exhibition explores the splendor of the pharaohs, their function in both the earthly and divine worlds and what “kingship” meant to the Egyptian people. Visitors will encounter master sculptures of powerful Egyptian rulers, including Khafre, builder of the Great Sphinx and one of the pyramids at Giza; Hatshepsut, the queen who became a pharaoh; statues of the warrior pharaohs, Tutmosis and Ramesses the Great; as well as King Tut´s father Akhenaten, the pharaoh who changed Egypt´s religion to the worship of one omnipotent sun god. The magnificent golden death mask of Psusennes I will also be on display. The spectacular exhibition also showcases the largest likeness of King Tut ever discovered—a 10-foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of a funerary temple.

The exhibition was curated under the direction of Dr. Zahi Hawass by Dr. David Silverman, the noted Egyptologist from the University of Pennsylvania, who also served as a curator during the 1970s tour. Silverman describes the exhibition: “There´s mystery. There´s excitement. It´s exotic and foreign, but it´s recognizable.” To promote understanding and put these artworks in context, the exhibition reflects environments that help convey the story of the artifacts, such as the great pyramids at Giza and the four rooms of King Tut´s tomb.

Tutankhamun will be on view in the 22,000-square-foot Upper Brown Pavilion of the Caroline Wiess Law Building at the MFAH. Its introduction features a National Geographic documentary narrated by award-winning actor Harrison Ford. The final galleries are dedicated to King Tut´s tomb, including an area devoted to its discovery by British explorer Howard Carter in 1922. There, visitors will encounter legendary treasures from the tomb´s antechamber, annex, treasury and burial chamber in corresponding galleries.

“Houston has a history of embracing exhibits surrounding ancient Egypt. This is the first time since 1962 that treasures from the tomb of King Tut have visited Houston,” said John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International.

New scientific discoveries continue to provide insight into King Tut´s legendary life and death. The exhibition features the first CT scans of the young king´s mummy, which were obtained as part of a landmark Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by the National Geographic Society.

“Egypt´s ancient treasures are among the world´s greatest cultural legacies,” said Terry Garcia, executive vice president, National Geographic Society. “Visitors to this exhibition will not only see stunning artifacts spanning ancient Egyptian history, but they will also learn more about the life and death of Tutankhamun through CT scans conducted on his mummy.”

Northern Trust is a proud cultural partner of the exhibition tour, American Airlines is the official airline. Apache Corporation, the largest U.S. investor in Egypt and a supporter of its educational and cultural endeavors, is the exclusive sponsor for the exhibition´s Houston presentation.

“For 120 years, Northern Trust has recognized the value of providing our communities with enriching cultural and educational experiences, such as this exhibition on invaluable treasures from ancient Egypt,” said Northern Trust chairman and chief executive officer Frederick H. Waddell. “We are privileged to support an event that brings to Houston unique insights into our shared human history.”

“American Airlines is thrilled to have a role in bringing this exhibition to Houston,” said Roger Frizzell, vice president — Corporate Communications, American Airlines. “Access to global transportation has been an important component of making this exhibit a reality, and it is exciting to know that American Airlines is helping to make it possible for this remarkable exhibition to be seen by visitors in Houston and throughout the Southwest.”

“We at Apache Corporation are proud to be the exclusive Houston sponsor for this extraordinary exhibition,” commented Rod Eichler, co-chief operating officer and president, international. “Given Apache´s longstanding partnership with the people and government of Egypt, supporting an exhibition that broadens awareness of Egypt´s cultural legacy is the perfect fit for us.”

National Geographic Books publishes the companion book to the exhibition by Dr. Zahi Hawass. Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs is one of two National Geographic exhibitions dedicated to the remarkable treasures of Tutankhamun and ancient Egyptian royalty, the other of which showed in Dallas in 2008. The Houston exhibition brings an entirely different collection of artifacts and information to the Southwest.

Ticket Information
Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs will be a ticketed exhibition; on-sale date and prices will be announced in early 2011.

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the largest art museum in America south of Chicago, west of Washington, D.C., and east of Los Angeles. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers nearly 63,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. Featured are the finest artistic examples of the major civilizations of Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Italian Renaissance paintings, French Impressionist works, photographs, American and European decorative arts, African and Pre-Columbian gold, American art, and European and American paintings and sculpture from post-1945 are particularly strong holdings. Recent additions to the collections include Rembrandt van Rijn´s Portrait of a Young Woman (1633), the Heiting Collection of Photography, a major suite of Gerhard Richter paintings, an array of important works by Jasper Johns, a rare, second-century Hellenistic bronze Head of Poseidon/Antigonos Doson, major canvases by 19th-century painters Gustave Courbet and J.M.W. Turner, Albert Bierstadt´s Indians Spear Fishing (1862), distinguished work by the leading 20th- and 21st-century artists from Latin America, and The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art.

Image: Tutankhamun Canopic Coffinette © Sandro Vaninni.

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