Monday, August 15, 2011

The fate of Tutankhamun's touring exhibition

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Never mind the cost of bringing the artefacts home - I would have thought that if, as the Step Pyramid story suggested, the SCA is short of the cash required to keep their monuments standing the government would encourage the tour to continue for the benefit of the income.

In 2004, when Egypt sent some of Tutankhamun’s collection to Basil city in Switzerland as the first leg of a seven-year touring exhibition abroad, many archaeologists applauded it as a good and free promotion of Egyptian heritage. In addition, some saw it as a possible financial source for restoring monuments and building museums. Meanwhile, some archaeologists fought against the tour, fearing the loss of these distinguished artefacts.

Two years later, another part of Tutankhamun’s collection was sent to Los Angeles as the first stop on a six-year touring exhibition abroad. But following the January 25 revolution, and the fall of the Mubarak regime, reassessment of such exhibitions has created friction between those archaeologists who support the tour of artefacts, and those who oppose it.

Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), decided to bring the issue before the Antiquities Permanent Committee, the SCA’s Administration Board and the Foreign Exhibition Committee in order to vote on whether to continue the tour of exhibitions or not.

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