After 30 Years, King Tut Returns to the de Young

San Francisco (October 6, 2008)—A new generation of Northern Californians will have a chance to view the artifacts of Egypt’s best-known pharaoh when Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs opens at the de Young on June 27, 2009. This marks the first time in three decades that the treasures of King Tutankhamun will be seen in Northern California since the first record-breaking exhibition at the de Young in 1979.

The current exhibition includes an extensive array of more than 130 important artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other ancient Egyptian sites such as the gold diadem found on King Tut’s mummy’s head when the tomb was discovered. The exhibition will also include a selection of artifacts that are new to the traveling exhibition including an elaborate pectoral necklace that features a yellow-green carved stone of unknown origin that is thought to be millions of years old.

A collection of photographs, “Opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb: The Harry Burton Photographs” will feature 38 prints from Harry Burton, the photographer who accompanied explorer Howard Carter on the Tutankhamun expedition and documented the discoveries. Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs will remain on view at the de Young through March 28, 2010.

“San Francisco is a perfect place for King Tut,” said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. “I want everyone in California to know that the boy king is coming to town, and I personally invite everyone to see this great exhibition so that a new generation of people will experience the history and magic of the boy king.”

“Since a trip to Egypt is out of reach for most people, we are bringing a collection of King Tut’s exquisite treasures back to the de Young so that the Bay Area can experience the beauty of the Golden Age of ancient Egypt,” said John E. Buchanan, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “The first Tut show in 1979 was one of the most popular exhibitions ever to be presented at the de Young. We look forward to providing this new educational and cultural exploration as part of our 30-year tradition of hosting exhibitions that feature ancient art and antiquities at the Fine Arts Museums.”

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is the latest in a long tradition of presenting exhibitions of Egyptian and Middle Eastern art and antiquities at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Previous exhibitions have included: Highlights from the Israel Antiquities Authority: The Dead Sea Scrolls and 5,000 Years of Treasures (2008), Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh (2005-2006), Eternal Egypt(2002), Pergamon: The Telephos Frieze from the Great Altar (1996), The Search for Alexander (1982), Treasures of Tutankhamun (1979) and Images for Eternity: Egyptian Art from Berkeley and Brooklyn (1975). The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have presented 17 such exhibitions since 1975.

A portion of the proceeds generated from the world tour are being used to help preserve Egypt’s treasures, including the construction of a new museum in Cairo where antiquities will be housed.

Since opening in June 2005, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has drawn more than 5 million visitors, setting records in each city in which it was presented, including Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and London. The exhibition began its US encore tour in Dallas at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) on October 3.

The exhibition is organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

“Egypt’s ancient treasures are among the world’s greatest cultural legacies, and we’re delighted that we are able to bring this exhibition back to the United States so that more people will have an opportunity to view some of the most important artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb and other ancient Egyptian sites,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for mission programs.

“The previous King Tut tour in the 1970s was a major cultural phenomenon and, to some extent, coined the term ‘blockbuster,’” said John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International. “The huge response to Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has proven that the public still is embracing the legacy of the boy king.”

On view from June 27, 2009, through March 28, 2010 at the de Young, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs provides insight into the life of Tutankhamun and other royals of the 18th Dynasty (1555-1305 BC). All of the treasures in the exhibition are more than 3,000 years old.

Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty and ruled during a crucial, turmoil-filled period of Egyptian history. The boy king died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 18 or 19, in the ninth year of his reign (1322 BC). Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings was filled with magnificent treasures meant to ensure his divine immortality. Many objects belonging to the young king—exquisite personal items used in his daily life—were placed in it.

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs offers glimpses of that critical period in Egyptian history. On display will be 50 of Tutankhamun’s burial objects, including one of the gold and precious stone inlaid canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs. Also included are many of the day-to-day objects enjoyed by the young king including a finely crafted child’s chair and an inlaid game board, one of four in the tomb, clearly representing an activity enjoyed by the king.

New to the encore tour of the exhibition are two nested coffinettes that contained the remains of two fetuses that are now undergoing DNA testing to reveal their relationship to King Tut. Also new to the exhibition from Tutankhamun’s tomb is a beautiful scarab bracelet featuring a central image of a beetle representing the sun god. An elaborate pectoral, a masterpiece of jewelry making, contains a rare, yellow-green glass stone carved in the shape of a scarab beetle that some scientists believe to be a fragment of an ancient meteorite.

More than 70 additional objects from tombs of 18th Dynasty royals, as well the possessions of elite individuals with close connections to the royal family also will be exhibited. These stone, faience and wooden pieces from burial sites before Tut’s reign will give visitors a sense of what the burials of both royalty and the elite may have been like and what the Egyptians of that time considered essential for the afterlife.

Northern Trust, a global financial services firm, is the presenting sponsor of the tour, and American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, is the official airline of the exhibition.

“Northern Trust is proud to share this fascinating cultural and educational experience with the San Francisco community as well as visitors from around the world,” said Frederick H. Waddell, president and chief executive officer, Northern Trust Corporation. “For nearly 120 years, Northern Trust has supported numerous local charities and events that increase social interaction and a sense of community, and integrate the arts into education and other outreach activities. We look forward to the continued success of the tour and anticipate that this exhibition will provide a wonderful opportunity for all viewers to enjoy this truly unique exploration into the history of Tutankhamun.”

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, is the official airline of the exhibition.

“American Airlines is thrilled to have a role in bringing an exhibition of this magnitude to San Francisco,” said Dan Garton, executive vice president of marketing for American Airlines. “As the official airline of the exhibition, we are pleased that American Airlines is helping to make it possible for these extraordinary objects to be seen by thousands of visitors.”

Tickets to Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs at the de Young will be available for purchase on a date to be announced later. For additional information about tickets and pricing, please visit Consumers can sign up for the de Young’s newsletter to be the first to receive an email alert of when tickets will go on sale.

Discounted tickets will be available for school groups and a limited number of scholarships will be available for low-income students. Beginning Monday, October 5, 2009, Mondays will be reserved for school group visits. Reservations for student visits will be accepted in January 2009.

The de Young, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and located in Golden Gate Park, showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international textile arts and costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific, and Africa.

Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118