June 17, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: In 2004-2005, I was the Sr. Project Manager for the current King Tut exhibit (which I affectionately call Tut 1). And although I am no longer working on that project, I do keep up with the folks involved and see how things are going from time to time. So I thought I’d give you an update on what is happening. The two King Tut tours are on the move once again.

Tut 1 called Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs will open on June 27, 2009 in San Francisco at the de Young Museum. The exhibit  is currently scheduled to run until March 28, 2010.  The city is abuzz with excitement about having the exhibit back in town. The de Young Museum was one of seven museums in the United States that hosted the original King Tut exhibit back in the 1970s. 


Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs first opened in Basel, Switzerland in 2004, followed by a run in Bonn, Germany. The tour was then taken over by a group from the United States (Arts and Exhibitions International, AEG Live and the National Geographic Society) and opened its first show n Los Angeles in June, 2005. The following cities have hosted the exhibit:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • London, England
  • Dallas, TX
  • and now is headed to San Francisco

Tut 2 called Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohswill open on June 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Childrens’ Museum of Indianapolis. It is currently scheduled to run until October 25, 2009. From there, the tour will continue to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and run from November 24, 2009 to April 18, 2010.


This tour began in Vienna, Austria at the Volkerkunde Museum Vienna and was on display from March 9, 2008 to September 28, 2008. It was exhibited under the name Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs. After that, the show traveled to the United States and now is named Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. The exhibit has, or will visit the following cities:

  • Vienna, Austria (ended)
  • Atlanta, GA (ended)
  • Indianapolis, IN (opening June 27, 2009)
  • Toronto, ON, Canada (opening November 24, 2009).

Both Tut 1 and Tut 2 each have over 130 objects from a variety of Egyptian sites including 50 of which come from Tutankhamun’s tomb.

What these exhibits ARE NOT displaying

Two of the biggest misconceptions about these two exhibits are that the following artifacts are included and on display:

  • King Tut’s mummy
  • Golden Mask

This is absolutely not the case. Regrettably, neither of these artifacts are included in the current tours. In fact, Tutankhamun’s mummy has never even left its tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt since its discovery in 1922. And although thousands of people visit the tomb annually, the mummy was never on public display there until November of 2007. It was then that King Tut’s mummy was put in a special climate-controlled display case inside the tomb where visitors are now able to view it.

Picture 475

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) stands over the mummy of Tutankhamun now on display in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.

The Golden Mask is also not on tour with these two exhibits. It remains on display at The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. However the mask was part of the original exhibit Treasures of Tutankhamun that toured in the 1970s. Many people remember that blockbuster exhibit because of the Golden Mask and they assumed that it would tour again with these new shows. Unfortunately the Egyptian government stated that it would never again allow the mask to leave Egypt as it is considered a national treasure and must remain safely in Egypt.

The icon often used in the current advertisements for these new exhibits confused many people because it looks like the Golden Mask but in fact is a “golden canopic coffinette”. The coffinettes (4 in total) were used to hold one of Tutankhamun’s internal organs after the embalming process was completed. They are amazing in detail to see in person. They have similar features to the Golden Mask but are tiny in comparison. The head and shoulders of the Golden Mask is 54cm high (21-1/4″)  while the height of an entire canopic coffinette only measures 39cm high (15-3/8″). Each exhibit has one of these coffinettes on display.

Golden Mask

King Tut's Golden Mask is not on tour and remains in The Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Canopic coffinette. Each touring exhibit features one of these wonderfully intricate artifacts which are only 15-3/8" tall.

Canopic coffinette. Each touring exhibit features one of these wonderfully intricate artifacts which are only 15-3/8" tall.

To buy tickets to the exhibits, go to


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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I believe that Egypt has every right to keep what it chooses from the tomb of King Tut. However the public
    should be made aware that the mask will not be on the tour in any country. This information is not easily found or is it disclosed.

    • Hi Kathy: You are correct. Egypt is responsible for their artifacts and they make the choices of what they will and will not release to these exhibits. The promoters of these exhibits do say that the Golden Mask is not part of these tours however it is not on their front page. That would be a poor marketing strategy. The information is found under the Exhibition FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and states “Is the death mask and sarcophagus in the exhibition? Tut’s death mask and sarcophagus is not allowed to leave Egypt and therefore is not included in the exhibition”.
      You have to realize that it is the job of the promoter is to tell you what “is” in the exhibition, not what “is not” in the exhibition.

  2. I have the opportunity to visit one of the King Tut exhibits which are touring now in San Francisco and Indianapolis but not both. Are the tours about equal as to the artifacts on display or is one of them notably better? I have looked at the museums,Natgeo, and King Tut websites but have not been able to make a decision based on their informations. Since you have been closely involved, I would appreciate any feedback you can give to me. Thanks, Judy

    First email I sent, I made a typo error on my email address. This one is corrected.

    • Hi Judy: Thanks so much for writing me. I am currently on vacation but will be back at it on Monday, August 17. When are you planning on seeing one, or both of these exhibitions?
      Briefly, the exhibit in San Francisco at the de Young Museum is the one that began touring in June of 2005. It is currently on display in its 7th venue in San Francisco and will be there from now until March of 2010.
      The exhibit in Indianapolis will be on display until October, 2009 and then heads to Toronto, Canada from November 24 to April 18, 2010.
      Both shows have merit. They both have 130 artifacts of which about 50 come from the actual tomb of King Tut. I was just in Indianapolis two weeks ago and took in the show there so I’ll be able to fill you in on the content much better when we get a chance to chat more.
      But for the sake of my readers, I’ll give you a really quick summary of each show and my preferences from each.
      1. San Francisco: Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs covers Tut and his family members. The timeline roughly covers a span of about 300 years from the 18th dynasty.
      2. Indianapolis/Toronto: Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs covers Tut and some of the other pharaohs, royalty and history of ancient Egypt. This show spans from the 4th to 26th dynasties and includes over 2000 years of history.

      Both shows have merit and very interesting artifacts. Neither show has Tut’s Golden Mask, Tut’s Innermost Coffin or his mummy. Please do not go thinking you will see these items. The Mask and the Coffin did tour during the 1970s but have not been allowed out of Egypt for these tours. The mummy has never left the tomb EVER so that’s not there either.

      However, there are a lot of great artifacts to see. Both shows have Golden Canopic Miniature Coffins which contained Tut’s embalmed internal organs (SF has the one that held his liver, IN has the one that contained his stomach). SF has the golden coffin of Tut’s grandmother Tiya (that’s really an impressive artifact to see). Tut 2 in Indianapolis has a funerary Golden Mask from Pharaoh Psusennes I. The detail in this mask is exquisite and for me is one of the top 10 Must See artifacts from the Indianapolis exhibit.

      Having seen both shows and having worked on the first show, I think both have some really cool things to see. However, the show in San Francisco is a little bit easier to follow as it only covers 300 years of history and has a National Geographic gallery at the end which talks about the CT Scans done on Tut’s mummy and the science behind the efforts. This is pretty fascinating stuff. The second Tut exhibit does not have this gallery. Instead some of the information from that gallery is featured in a very small AV station that is placed at the queing line to be looked at while waiting to get into the show.

      I’m sorry I can’t get more in depth at this time but vacation and family do call. I’ll write you Judy and we can discuss this further when I return. In the meantime, please tell me where you live and what your intentions are for visiting one, or both shows?

      Have a great day.

  3. In the past month or so I watched an outstanding show on TV that was all about the behind the scenes effort to move the King Tut exhibit. The above picture of Mr. Hawass was in that show, as an example. Watching that show has made me add a trip to the exhibit in the next month. I have been trying to find where I can learn more and watch that particular show again – either a replay on TV or on a web site. Can you help me please?

    Thank you very much,

    p.s. HIGHLY recommend others to watch it too !

    • Hi Cathy: Thanks for writing. Regrettably, I’m not familiar with that particular show. Can you tell me what channel it was on? Zahi Hawass has done many TV shows, interviews and other presentations on the King Tut exhibit as well as other Egyptian history. He knows his material.
      I’d be interested in seeing that show myself as I’ve been behind the scenes for many shows like this one and was involved in the early stages of the King Tut exhibit when we brought it over from Germany to the US in 2005. I love sharing how things work behind the scenes to get ‘the big show’ ready for the public. Many of my friends still work on the original exhibit which is currently showing in San Francisco. I am getting ready to do some speaking to schools about King Tut and the second exhibit which is currently in Indianapolis but coming to Toronto in November. What city are you in Cathy and which show are you planning on attending?
      Thanks for writing.

      • I am in the Bay Area and will be going to exhibit in San Francisco.

        I don’t recall the exact channel, but I am sure it was either a PBS or Nat Geo channel; in the Bay Area we have several PBS channels. I am kicking myself that I did not record and keep the show. I looked for several hours on their web sites over the weekend but no luck. I am wondering if, since it is not a series, that perhaps it doesn’t get touted like other shows. It really was a TERRIFIC show focused on the tear down, move, and recreation of the exhibit between cities. You were my last hope to find it again & I’ve not given up yet. :)

      • Hi Cathy: I am sorry that I could not assist you with tracking down this special. I don’t get the PBS or NGS specials up here in Canada. But I am very familiar with the tear down, move out and set up process as I’ve experienced it many times. You are correct that it is a fascinating process. Are you in the exhibit industry? You use the word ‘tear down’ which is pretty specific to the industry. Please let us know what you think about the exhibit when you visit it.
        I look forward to hearing from you.

  4. Hello Barry.

    I attended the San Francisco exhibit yesterday and it was a terrific experience. The lunchtime crowds were minimal as school now in session which was wonderful … a few times only a handful of people and the beautiful artifacts in the same hall. The exhibit halls were so well done to focus ones attention to the detail. I especially loved being able to walk all around the pieces and see the back-sides; then to appreciate the design to consider the 360 degree of King Tut over 3,000 years ago. At the end I really liked the hieroglyphics too, and the outline of all the sarcophagi really made it much more visually understandable. I could go on, but – I’ll just say wow, I loved it.

    No, I’m not in the industry, but have had my share of trade shows and that is most likely the lingo connection.

    Now I do have another question for you Barry. Are there any books you could recommend that could help my curiosity of more detail on how these discoveries happened? I am so intrigued that in a vast desert a miracle happened to find these treasures.

    Best regards,

    • Hi Cathy: I”m so glad you enjoyed the exhibit. I enjoyed working on it back in 2004-2005. I’m most glad that you had a chance to see the exhibit while the crowds were down. I too loved looking at the pieces from ‘all angles’.
      The history of ancient Egypt is so vast and often overwhelming that it is hard to appreciate sometimes. However, with time, you can learn a lot about their past, the culture and the amazing treasures and architecture that resulted from it.
      Regarding recommendations for books on the subject of Kng Tut’s tomb discovery, I can certainly recommend one that all of us on the Tut team referred to when we first began developing the exhibit. It was recommended by Dr. David Silverman, the curator for both this Tut exhibit and the original one that toured the US in the 1970s. It’s called “The Complete Tutankhamun” by Nicholas Reeves. It is an older publication so some of the science that you saw at the exhibit will overrule what is in that book (such as the supposed cause of death). At the time of the books publication, only X-rays had been taken of the mummy up to that point. The CT scan done in 2005 led researchers to believe that Tut probably died from an infection caused by a broken leg rather than from death due to a head wound. It’s all facinating stuff and regardless of older publication date, I still feel this is one of the best done on the subject of the tomb discovery.
      The Reeves book is one of my favorites and I used it extensively in preparation for a presentation I will be making to schools later this fall.
      For me, I was very lucky when I was working on the exhibit. I was in Bonn, Germany (where the exhibit was prior to coming to America) and a small university museum nearby was exhibiting the papers and notes from Howard Carter. They had his diary opened to the page on the day he discovered the steps that lead to the discovery of the tomb. It was an amazing treature that I never thought I’d see. It was pretty cool. I hope that someone one day decides to tour that exhibit again. People would love to see the actual artifacts from the man who discovered the tomb.
      Again, I’m really happy that you enjoyed the exhibit and I hope you tell us more about it when time permits.
      Have a wonderful evening.

  5. Thank you Barry.

    I have ordered the book you recommended, plus a few others. I am excited to learn more about Howard Carter, King Tut, and the treasures in Egypt. The San Francisco exhibit has really piqued my interest. I truly appreciate your comments, and look forward to a continuing experience and the exploration from the comfort of my living room.

    If I can ever find the TV show again that covered the set-up, tear-down, moving, security, and how involved moving this exhibit is, I will circle back to you.

    Best regards,

    • Thanks Cathy. I’m so glad for you. You will enjoy the book. I love the feeling of discovery when you’ve been moved to research more.
      I hope your really enjoy your Tut-TIme.
      Enjoy Cathy.

  6. Did anyone ever find the name of the show that focused on the tear-down and set-up. I too watched it, and I can find nothing about it! I want to know…if you know email me please!

  7. Just like Cathy, the originator of this communication trail, I’m searching for the show with the behind-the-scene perspective of the King Tut exhibit. It really was a memorable program and would like to see it again and share with friends.

    Some things I recall that might help you locate this program include:
    + The show ended with packing up in CHI and going to PHL. They interviewed the truck drivers and how secret they must be to part of this tour.
    + They found a possible crack in one of the objects….and all hell broke out.
    + The air conditioning at the CHI location went out and security tightened….to a point where the guys doing the show weren’t allowed access to anything.
    + So hot & so intense in the place, someone passed out….tighter security.

    There were many other things I remember but those seem so unique and part of what made this a memoriable tv show.

    If there is a way you can locate this show, please advise.


    • Hi Quincy: Thank you for writing. I unfortunately am not familiar with the show you and Cathy spoke of. Do you recall who produced it (National Geographic perhaps as they are a partner in the exhibit)?
      The things you mentioned are definitely interesting. There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that the public never sees. Oh, the stories I could tell you! It is pretty amazing how an exhibit goes together and what it takes to ‘put on the show’. One day soon I’ll write an article on just that as I’ve been involved in many including the Tut exhibit that you mentioned above.
      I’ll send your email to the current project manager on the show and if they have time to respond, I’ll be sure to post their answer here for you to see.
      Thanks again for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

      • Hi Quincy and Cathy: I heard back from the current project manager on the King Tut exhibit. This may help you with your search for the documentary you were looking for. This is what she said:

        “I believe the documentary that you are referring to is called “Inside Tut’s Treasure tour” and it does show some behind the scenes during the Chicago strike and the Philly installation– including touching on one of our Egyptian curators becoming dehydrated (really had more to do with not drinking enough water than the heat – although it was warmer than usual at the Franklin at that time). It was a PBS Production with assistance from National Geo (I believe)”.

        I hope this was helpful.

  8. I think your story of king TUT’s life is owsome EXALINT JOB……COOL

  9. […] KING TUT TOURS ON THE MOVE AGAIN В« A Little Touch of History Jun 18, 2009 … Vienna, Austria (ended); Atlanta, GA (ended); Indianapolis, IN (opening June 27, 2009); Toronto, ON, Canada (opening … To buy tickets to the exhibits, go to … […]

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