Thursday, April 22, 2010

No freebies from Egypt

Asharq Alawsat (Zahi Hawass)

Around forty years ago, the Egyptian government approved sending 55 of some of the rarest artefacts belonging to the boy king Tutankhamun [to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US] that were discovered by the British archaeologist Hayward Carter on November 4, 1922. Even though this pharaoh ruled Egypt for less than nine years and died before he could prepare a tomb suitable for someone of his status in the same way his pharaonic ancestors did, over five thousand artefacts were found in his tomb and are still attracting the world’s attention and stealing the hearts of those who view them.

Back to the story of King Tutankhamen’s first exhibition in the US, the artefacts were displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and despite that the museum made millions of dollars from donations to the museum and from the catalogues and souvenirs that were sold, Egypt made no financial profits from it. However, we cannot deny the tourist and promotional gains as a result of King Tut’s presence in the US.

Now that we know all the facts, the exhibition of Tutankhamen is back once again in New York City after 40 years. This time, the wonders of King Tut will not be displayed at the Met but in a special display hall in New York. This is because the Metropolitan administration insisted it would not pay Egypt for the exhibition based on the pretext that entry to the museum is usually free, despite the fact that we know no one is allowed to enter the Met unless a donation is made and about other considerable financial profits as mentioned above.


Anonymous said...

Good for the Met. It is about time someone stands up to hot air hawas.

Herodotus said...

If Mr. Hoving (former head of the Met) is to be believed; substantial bribes had to be paid to Egyptian authorities for this exhibition to take place.