Spring 2008: Of Note
Walk with an Egyptian
The Carlos Museum brings Tutankhamun to Atlanta
By Paige P. Parvin 96G
For more about Tutankhamun, including ticketing information, visit carlos.emory.edu/tut.
Lost Kingdoms of the Nile: Nubian Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will be at the Carlos Museum until August 31, 2008. Read more.
The awe of ancient Egypt promises to lure many thousands of inquisitive viewers to Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, brought to Atlanta by the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Plans for the exhibition, which will be showcased at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center from November 15, 2008, until May 22, 2009, were announced at the Carlos this spring, with fanfare befitting a boy king.
The landmark show spans two thousand years of Egyptian history and will feature some 130 artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other ancient sites, many of which have never been displayed outside Egypt before. The scope of the exhibition places King Tut in the broad context of ancient Egyptian culture, focusing on the splendor of the Egyptian pharaohs, the significance of kingship to the ancient Egyptian people, and the intricate and symbolic ceremonies related to life and death in the palace. Viewers will get a sense of how life and art evolved over many generations in ancient Egypt.
To complement the exhibition at the Civic Center, the Carlos will host the remarkable photos of Harry Burton, the photographer who documented the excavation when King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922.
“The Carlos Museum has helped to create a superb opportunity to reflect on and honor the ancient legacies of the world, their profound impact on our lives, and the importance of continued dialogue,” said President Jim Wagner. “We trust that King Tutankhamun’s visit will open many doors.”
A related exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, opened in 2005 and has attracted some four million viewers across the country, setting records in each city it has visited. That show originally toured in 1976 and gave rise to the term “blockbuster exhibition.” The Atlanta show, which is presented in partnership with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, the National Geographic Society, and Arts and Exhibitions International, is reported to be equally impressive and could bring as much as $150 million to the city—its only stop in the Southeast.
The smallest museum and the only university museum to present Tutankhamun, the Carlos has long cultivated ties to Egypt. In 2003, led by director Bonnie Speed and curator of ancient Egyptian arts and artifacts Peter Lacovara, the museum identified and returned what was most likely the mummy of Pharaoh Ramesses I to his home, earning the appreciation of leaders including Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. By helping the Carlos land Tut for Atlanta, Hawass is returning the favor.
“The Carlos Museum is honored to bring to Atlanta one of the greatest artistic and cultural legacies of the ancient world,” says Speed. “The people of Georgia will be able to experience firsthand the impact and relevance of these extraordinary treasures.”
The Carlos sought support to fund and house Tutankhamun, but the museum brings unique intellectual resources to the event, which will call on Emory experts across disciplines to engage the community. For instance, the Carlos will lead the development of educational materials for elementary, middle, and high school audiences on topics such as childhood in ancient Egypt and the journey to the afterlife.
Tutankhamun will include extraordinary finds not only from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other tombs in the Valley of the Kings, but also from temples, palaces, and other ancient Egyptian sites. The works range in size from tiny intricately carved jewels to the colossal ten-foot statue of King Tutankhamun himself.
The Carlos Museum is home to one of the few Egyptian collections in the southeastern United States. Speaking at the April announcement, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said, “Those of us who live in Atlanta have access to the wonders of the world’s civilizations right in our backyard.”