King Tut’s Treasures Expensive for Australian Museum

King Tut's Golden SandalsThe blockbuster exhibition ‘King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs’ will not tour Australia because museums cannot afford it – not surprisingly if you look at the price tag. Egypt wants to prolong the world’s most successful tour of artefacts from the tomb of the boy-king but offers to host the exhibition have been underwhelming, to say the least. The Director of the Australian Museum, Frank Howarth, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the show’s $10 million price tag and its size were too big for Australian institutions to handle.

Dr. Zahi Hawass said – despite earlier claims from Egypt that Tutankhamun’s treasures would never leave the Cairo Museum (check out its basement in this video!) again when this tour is completed – the exhibition could travel to Australia early in 2012 if a museum was willing to host it. ”I want to see King Tut go to Australia,” Dr Hawass told the Herald in his office in Cairo last week. ”I have been planning for it to go to Australia but no one from Australia has asked me at all.” ”Nothing like this has ever been to Australia before, and it will be many, many years before the opportunity will come again,” Dr Hawass added.

We couldn’t get the level of return that would justify the King Tutankhamun show.

Egypt wanted to charge $10 million for every six months that the objects for ‘Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs’ (currently in Toronto) were on loan – for which you don’t get Tut’s Golden Death Mask. That amount required audiences Australia did not have, the Director of the Australian Museum, Frank Howarth said. ”There’s no way an Australian venue would return that sort of money,” he told the Herald. ”We couldn’t get the level of return that would justify the King Tutankhamun show.” (Having slaughtered my piggy bank as well as my savings account and coming no where near the amount needed to get myself an autographed ‘A Secret Voyage’, I can somewhat relate.)

In stead, the Australian Museum – until December 6th – hosted ‘Egyptian Treasures: Art of the Pharaohs‘, from the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Austria. By contrast, it cost about $1.5 million. For that amount you still get:1 mummy (Nekhet-iset-aru) including linen bandaging, 3 coffins and over 30 statues – including a 2 metre statue of Sekhmet and the Sphinx of Pharoah Amenhotep III (watch the video about his mortuary temple) as well as some ‘Book of the Deads’, Egyptian jewellery, canopic jars, amulets (non-alien), steles and some tiny shabtis for good measure. Not that bad a deal? Besides, you don’t need the artefacts to Do the Tut and… you can always have a good look at the Boy King’s amazing treasures – for free – in Heritage Key’s King Tut Virtual.