Arts & Culture
8:05 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Take A Sneak Peek Of The New King Tut Exhibit At Union Station

The Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, or King Tut, has been a subject of fascination ever since his tomb was discovered in 1922. The young king, who died at the age of 19, and his golden treasures have inspired films, fashion, music, travel and exhibitions. The Discovery of King Tut, has toured 20 cities since 2008, and it makes its first stop in North America at Union Station on Friday.

The Discovery of King Tut displays more than 1,000 objects found in Tutankhamun's tomb, including the iconic golden mask, golden coffins, golden chariot, and a golden throne, as well as jewelry and furniture. They're not the originals, but replicas and reproductions handcrafted by Egyptian artisans.

The exhibition also takes viewers into the burial chambers as they looked in 1922 when British archaeologist Howard Carter first stepped inside.

Interview Highlights

On taking the viewer back to Howard Carter's "moment of discovery"

Christoph Scholz, executive producer, 'The Discovery of King Tut', SC Exhibitions: "This first part of the exhibition is re-creating the moment of discovery. We want visitors to become explorers, to wander on the footsteps of Howard Carter himself. A situation which only a few very privileged excavation guests were able to witness in 1922."

The antechamber has been reconstructed as archaeologist Howard Carter found it in 1922.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Dr. David Silverman, professor of Egyptology, University of Pennsylania and scientific advisor: "This is actually what Howard Carter saw once they were able to finish the excavation...and so, what you see here, is the exact size of the antechamber, which is the largest of the four rooms. It looks sort of disheveled the way things are set up. And the reason is because there were probably two intrusions into the tomb by robbers...

"They were probably either family members of or close friends of the people who were responsible for completing the tomb and for stocking it for things. So they knew exactly where to go, exactly what to do, so they moved as quickly as possible."

On scientific discoveries through DNA testing, but still mysteries

Dr. Wolfgang Wettengel, Egyptologist and scientific advisor: "We have, here, a graphic panel that explains the scientific research. It starts in 1925...in this age, they already know a lot. They knew the king died at the age of 18. They guessed that there was a chemical reaction with the mummy because it was black. This chemical reaction was caused by oil, ointment of the mummification...

Scientists have conducted CT scans and DNA tests over the last decade to determine Tutankhamun's cause of death and parentage.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

"The basic reconstruction for this mummy was the DNA. With this analysis, it was discovered that the parents of Tut should be in close relationship, should be brother and sister.

At the end, all this DNA is not 100 percent, so it's still a little bit open. Still some questions which will remain."

On reaching new audiences, both young and old

Dr. Robert Cohon, Curator of Ancient Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: "Any kid - from 7 to even 70 years old - is going to remember this. They're going to see things like the chariot, the golden chariot, the golden mask, all of these coffins, the images of the gods with strange heads. And that's the kind of thing that you remember and you're puzzled by and it excites you...

Coffins provided layers of protection for the mummy.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

"As a museum curator, we're interested, of course, in the original and that kind of roughened hard surface that reflects thousands of years. But on the other hand, it is our business in the museum world to get people interested and excited - and here you have all of King Tut's treasure. I mean, my goodness!"

The Discovery of King Tut, April 4 - September 7, 2014, Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City, Mo. 816-460-2020