This exhibition is now closed. Hide this message

A Canadian Exclusive!

November 24, 2009 - April 18, 2010 November 21 & 22: Opens to Members Only (time-ticketed)

← Back to 2009

Canadian exclusive: King Tut returns to the AGO and this time he’s bringing his fellow pharaohs

April 24, 2009. Thirty years after the wonders of King Tut had their celebrated Canadian debut at the Art Gallery of Ontario, an even bigger exhibition – Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs – will make its sole Canadian appearance at the AGO with a members-only preview starting November 21 and public opening November 24. The 1979 exhibition sparked “Tutmania” throughout Canada and brought more than 750,000 visitors to the AGO.

With an almost entirely different selection of treasures and more than twice the number of artifacts as were displayed in the 1979 exhibition, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs features 130 remarkable pieces from the tomb of King Tut and ancient sites representing some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. Derived from temples and royal and private tombs from 2600 B.C to 660 B.C., most of these artifacts had never before been seen in North America prior to this exhibition, which is currently breaking venue attendance records during its U.S. premiere in Atlanta.

This spectacular collection features the largest image of King Tut ever unearthed – a 10-foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials. The statue still retains much of its original paint.

At the AGO through April 18, 2010, the exhibition is organized by the National Geographic Society, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Northern Trust is a proud cultural partner of the exhibition, and American Airlines is the official airline. A portion of proceeds from this exhibition will go toward antiquities preservation and conservation efforts in Egypt, including the construction of a new grand museum in Cairo.

Four AGO galleries will be devoted to King Tut, whose mysterious death at age 18 or 19 continues to capture the imaginations of millions. Featured objects from his tomb include jewelry, furniture and weapons, as well as the boy king's golden sandals – which were created specifically for the afterlife and still covered his feet when his mummified remains were discovered in 1922 by British explorer Howard Carter. Another highlight is an exquisite gold canopic coffinette that originally contained the pharaoh's mummified stomach.

The exhibition will also feature artifacts belonging to some of ancient Egypt's most powerful rulers, such as Khufu, whose Great Pyramid is the only remaining structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world. An extraordinary gold death mask that covered the head and chest of the mummy of King Psusennes I will also be showcased.

New scientific discoveries that emerged from a landmark Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by the National Geographic Society, will also be on view, providing visitors with new insight into Tutankhamun's legendary life and death. This will include the first three-dimensional CT scans of King Tut's mummy, captured through the use of a portable CT scanner donated by Siemens Medical Solutions.

The exhibition experience will be enhanced with an audio tour and National Geographic video documentary, both narrated by award-winning actor Harrison Ford.

“Tutankhamun's magic still captures the hearts of people all over the world, even though more than 85 years have passed since the discovery of his amazing tomb,” says Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. “I always say that Egyptian antiquities are the heritage of the world and that we are their only guardians.”

“What better way to celebrate art and the one-year anniversary of our transformation than with the return of King Tut, bringing with him all the great pharaohs of Egypt,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO's director and CEO. “In this Canadian exclusive exhibition are incredible works of art from an ancient culture. Part of our mandate is broadening the definitions of art. In these astonishing artifacts, decorative objects and functional pieces is remarkable artistry that tells an unforgettable story about the splendor of the Egyptian pharaohs. Thirty years after our first Tut exhibition, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs recalls one of the great moments in AGO history.”

“The transformed Art Gallery of Ontario has already secured its position as Canada's newest cultural destination,” says Ontario Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll. “With this major exhibition, people from throughout the province and the nation can experience both the remarkable new AGO and the wonders of ancient Egypt as told through Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.

“Even with the great wealth of research that already exists, new technologies continue to reveal the secrets of the past in ways never imagined,” says Terry Garcia, executive vice president of the National Geographic Society. “In this exhibition, visitors will learn more about the life and death of Tutankhamun through recent CT scans conducted on his mummy.”

“Corporate citizenship has been a focus at Northern Trust since our founding in 1889. We are proud to uphold this legacy by supporting important initiatives that promote cultural education and awareness,” says Frederick H. Waddell, president and chief executive officer of Northern Trust Corporation. "We look forward to sharing this inspiring educational experience with the local community and visitors from around the world."

“The previous King Tut tour in the 1970s was a major cultural phenomenon, and to some extent, coined the term “blockbuster,” says John Norman, president of Arts and Exhibitions International. “As the only host Canadian city for this new exhibition, Toronto will have at its door one of the world's great cultural legacies.”

Record crowds thronged to the AGO 30 years ago to see the first Tut exhibition, and organizers again anticipate high demand for Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. The exhibition will be time-ticketed to ensure visitors have comfortable and convenient access to the exhibition. AGO members will receive a limited number of free and discounted tickets, depending on membership level. AGO members will have the opportunity to book tickets before they go on sale to the public, beginning in September. An AGO members' preview is planned before this spectacular exhibition opens to the public. More information about tickets for members will be available at in late summer.

Tickets for the general public will go on sale starting this fall. In the meantime, those interested in general public tickets can pre-register at

As preparations for this major exhibition continue, the AGO is also planning other compelling exhibitions that will appeal to a broad array of visitor interests. Among them:

Opening Oct. 3, 2009, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years 1923–1937 features more than 200 extraordinary photographs from his years as chief photographer at Condé Nast publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. Steichen's brilliant work captures the glamour and drama of the period in high fashion, as well as politics, literature, dance, theatre and opera. The exhibition is organized by the Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, in collaboration with the AGO.

Beauty, consumerism, race, identity and gender politics converge in the large-scale collages of African-born, American-based artist Wangechi Mutu. Although she has had solo exhibitions at the San Francisco MoMA and the Miami Art Museum, the AGO-organized Wangechi Mutu: This You Call Civilization? is her most comprehensive exhibition to date. Opening in February, 2010, Mutu's distinctive hybridized figures depict an unsettling realm where cyborg-like creatures inhabit dazzling, imaginary landscapes. The exhibition also features several of the artist's videos.

Scheduled for winter 2010, Arctic Vision presents a remarkable group of artworks unique to the Canadian North that has evolved over the past 60 years. Created by artists of Inuit ancestry, this AGO-organized exhibition features 175 masterworks (sculptures, prints and drawings) from the AGO's Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection – merely a fraction of one of the foremost and comprehensive privately-assembled collections of Inuit art in the world. The exhibition explores the impact of globalization and climate change on the Inuit traditional lifestyle. Following its AGO debut, Arctic Vision will be the most important internationally touring exhibition of Inuit art in almost 40 years.

Celebrated writer Michael Ondaatje and filmmaker Guy Maddin have been invited to curate a show from the AGO's expansive photography collection, with the working title: Shadowy Disasters/Mildewed Nudes. This AGO-organized exhibition is currently scheduled for spring 2011.

With a permanent collection of more than 73,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. The Gallery opened the transformed AGO on November 14, 2008. Designed by the internationally celebrated architect Frank Gehry, the renovated AGO has 4,000 works of art from around the world on display in 110 breathtaking, light-filled galleries. As the imaginative centre of the city, the Gallery dramatically enriches visitors' experiences and provides greater access to the vibrancy of the art museum.


Laura Calliari
Arts and Exhibitions International
(310) 941-8780

Last modified on January 17, 2012

Share and Enjoy:

The exhibition is organized by the National Geographic Society, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Northern Trust is a proud cultural partner. American Airlines is the official airline of the exhibition. Additional financial support is provided by the Government of Ontario.