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Trove of King Tut artifacts to visit Denver

Kyle MacMillan Denver Post Fine Arts Critic

An exhibition set to open July 1 at the Denver Art Museum will give some Colorado residents their first opportunity to see ancient objects from the tomb of King Tut – the most celebrated archeological discovery in history.The blockbuster show, titled “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,” will contain 50 objects from Tut’s tomb as well as at least 50 objects related to other Egyptian pharaohs. It will be on view through Jan. 2, 2011.”It’s an important exhibition,” said museum director Lewis Sharp. “It complements the broader program we are trying to develop. And, the most important thing – we believe it will have a broad appeal to a cross-section of people who live in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.”All the objects to be on display come from the Cairo Museum, in cooperation with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.Highlights will include the largest image of King Tut ever unearthed – a 10-foot statue of the pharaoh from the tomb of two of his high officials – and one of four inlaid golden coffinettes that held the pharaoh’s internal organs.Sharp said the offering is comparable in terms of quality and range of objects to “Ramses II,” another Egyptian blockbuster that ran from October 1987 through March 1988 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. It drew 909,000 people, a record for that museum.Sharp declined to estimate attendance for the Tut exhibit. But its presentation in Atlanta earlier this year drew about 400,000 people.The show coming to Denver is one of two similarly sized Tut offerings touring under the auspices of the National Geographic Society and Arts and Exhibitions International, an affiliate of AEG – a company owned by Denver businessman Philip Anschutz.The first of the two shows opened in Switzerland in 2004.The version coming to Denver made its North American debut in Atlanta and is currently at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.”I think they are both comparable,” Sharp said. “They are just two exhibitions under the same kind of organization. It’s met with such success that it’s had two different tours.”A 2007 article in The Art Newspaper estimated the fees paid by each venue to display the first of the two Tut exhibitions at $10 million.But according to Sharp, the Denver Art Museum is splitting the proceeds with the show’s organizers, and they are covering the expenses, including loan fees and shipping.”It’s not costing us anything,” he said.Ticket prices for the Tut show have not been finalized, but Sharp said they will be in the range of those in Indianapolis. Museum admission for nonmembers there is $25 Mondays through Thursdays and $30 Fridays through Sundays.”If you at look at what it costs you to go to the theater today, what it costs you to go even (to) a sporting event today, it’s comparable to that. In fact, it’s less expensive than that,” Sharp said.King Tut died under mysterious circumstances around the age of 18 or 19 in the ninth year of his reign – 1323 B.C. The discovery of his tomb in 1922 drew international coverage and sparked a wave of interest in all things Egyptian.Kyle MacMillan: 303-954-1675 or kmacmillan@denverpost.com


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