On September 15, 1977, “Treasures of Tutankhamun,” a blockbuster touring exhibit featuring artifacts from the reign of ancient Egyptian pharaoh, arrived at the New Orleans Museum of Art. 

 Tutankhamun, widely known as “King Tut,” took the throne in 1332 B.C., at the age of 9, and reigned until his death about 10 years later. Very little was known about the young pharaoh when British archeologist Howard Carter uncovered his tomb in the Valley of Kings on November 4, 1922

In June 1974,  more than 50 years after the tomb’s discovery, U.S. President Richard Nixon negotiated a bilateral agreement with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to help advance peace and form a new partnership between the two countries. As part of the agreement, the Egyptian government would send treasures discovered with King Tut to the United States for a six-month tour across six different cities, one of which was New Orleans. 

The exhibit at NOMA included jewelry, furniture, and King Tut’s solid gold funeral mask. It attracted more than 870,000 visitors to the museum. It also increased museum membership.

The exhibit ran through January 15, 1978 and in true New Orleans fashion, the Crescent City bid King Tut farewell with a jazz funeral

The King Tut artifacts are set to be back on display in the new  Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The museum is scheduled to open its doors later this year.   

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Shannon Stecker is a creative writer, a marketing director, and a lover of stories. She has spent the past 15 years of her career in a creative space – as a print and broadcast journalist, a freelance...