After more than 30 years, King Tut has returned to Seattle gathering thousands of visitors in a couple of weeks since its opening on May 24 at Pacific Science Center. With almost an entirely new collection and at least double the previous amount of artifacts, “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” will be concluding its tour in North America before returning to Egypt – possibly forever.
For those expecting to see the mummy who inspired Steve Martin’s classic homage on Saturday Night Live, the boy king who “gave his life for tourism” still rests his tomb in the Valley of Kings. An exact replica, the only one of its kind, of the mummified five-foot-nine-inch pharaoh is one of the many highlights at the exhibit.
Other treasures include furniture, jewelry, a sarcophagus for Prince Thutmose’s cat, the golden funerary mask of King Psusennes I and an inner coffin of Queen Meritamun, the wife of the first king in the 18th dynasty. Most of the artifacts from King Tut’s tomb have never been on display in the United States before this exhibition, which has sold more than 90,000 tickets during the official opening and booked school field trips until the fall.
“This is an exciting time for not only Pacific Science Center, but for our state and region,” said Bryce Seidl, president and CEO for Pacific Science Center. “We have the great pleasure to be hosting the final showing in North America of the most special exhibition in the world.”
Behind the double doors leading to the exhibit are sculptures of various pharaohs, priests and dignitaries who ruled ancient Egypt. Among the works of art is a figure of King Khafre, who built the Great Sphinx and the second-largest of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
However, the biggest image ever unearthed of King Tutankhamun stands 10 feet above the crowds. Next to it is a colossal statue of Amenhotep IV/Akhenaton, who was determined to be King Tut’s father through DNA tests in 2010.
Shortly after coming to the throne, pharaohs began the construction of their tomb. A guide at the exhibit said builders anticipated 30 to 40 years before a pharaoh’s demise. However, since King Tutankhamun died unexpectedly at the age of 19, he was placed in a smaller tomb, which comprised of four rooms: the annex, antechamber, burial chamber and treasury. The king’s belongings, specifically designed for the afterlife, are displayed according to the room in which they were discovered.
The King Tut exhibit is organized by National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiques. Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is a sponsor, Northern Trust is a proud cultural partner and American Airlines is the official airline of the exhibition.
“We are so excited to be able to bring the King Tut exhibit to our region as part of our 50th year of community focused programs and events that showcase science, technology, history, culture and the imaginative spirit we cherish here in the Northwest,” Seidl said.
Currently, Pacific Science Center is collaborating with local hotel partners that offer tickets to the exhibit when guests book a VIP hotel package. As another complement to the exhibit, the science center is featuring two IMAX films, “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs” and “Mysteries of Egypt.”
This is the last opportunity for those who first enjoyed seeing the Seattle Art Museum’s King Tut exhibit in 1978 to relive ancient history with their families. The show closes its doors for good January 6, 2013.
WHEN: May 24, 2012 to January 6, 2013
Pacific Science Center
200 Second Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
TICKETS: Prices depend on the day and vary between Pacific Science Center member and non-members. Tickets can be purchased at Pacific Science Center ticket office (1-800-664-8775) or website. Spaces fill quickly, so reservations are recommended.