Basel under the spell of Tutankhamun
After an absence of over 20 years the most important funerary treasures from the Valley of the Kings are returning to Europe - to the Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection
For six months, Basel will play host to one of the world's greatest cultural legacies: from April to September 2004, the Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection, will be staging the exhibition "Tutankhamun - The Golden Beyond". After Paris in 1967, London in 1972 and Germany in 1980-81, treasures from the tomb of the legendary Pharaoh will be returning to Europe for the first time in over 20 years. Also on display will be treasures from other graves in the famous Valley of the Kings, bringing to about 120 the number of original exhibits that will be seen in Basel. UBS is the exhibition's Presenting Sponsor.
"Museum directors are also allowed to dream. But that the dream of staging an exhibition like 'Tutankhamun - The Golden Beyond - Treasures from the Valley of the Kings' would come true one day - well, we hardly dared hope", says Prof. Peter Blome, Director of the Basel Museum of Ancient Art. Thanks to its good international reputation and excellent relations with Egypt's ancient monuments authority - the Supreme Council of Antiquities - and the National Museum in Cairo, the Basel museum succeeded in obtaining the release of the treasures from the Valley of the Kings. Furthermore, the excellent cooperation between the Swiss and Egyptian authorities was a major factor in this success. Not included in the exhibition is the famous Gold Mask, which is regarded as something of a national monument in Egypt and is therefore no longer lent to exhibitions abroad. Thus the most important Egyptian exhibition to be held in Europe in the last 23 years will be staged in Basel in the spring and summer of 2004.
The concept for the exhibition has been developed by the responsible curator at the Basel Museum of Ancient Art, Dr André Wiese, and his team. It focuses on the question: What did the grave treasure of the Egyptian New Kingdom rulers look like and how did it differ from that of members of the royal entourage? So as well as 50 of the most important treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamun, the exhibition will also feature grave goods from other royal tombs from the 18th Dynasty (15th-14th century BC). A further highlight will be loans from the intact tomb of Yuya and Tuyu, the parents-in-law of Amenophis III. This tomb had been discovered some 20 years before that of Tutankhamun, and had until then been the most celebrated find in the Valley of the Kings, indeed in the entire field of Egyptian archaeology. "There has never been an exhibition with such a wealth of top-flight treasures", says museum director Peter Blome. "Many of the exhibits we'll be showing in Basel have never been seen outside Egypt." The Basel Museum of Ancient Art is to be the only exhibition venue in Europe.
The funerary treasures from the period of the 18th Dynasty are between 3,500 and 3,300 years old. Many of them are made of gold or are gilded. Gold was considered in Ancient Egypt to be the colour of the everlasting sun and hence symbolized rebirth in the afterlife. The treasures placed in the burial chambers were intended to ensure the continued secure existence of the deceased beyond the grave. The Basel exhibition will also feature a replica of Tutankhamun's burial chamber.
All in all, the museum is anticipating about half a million visitors to the six-month-long exhibition, mostly from Switzerland and neighbouring countries. "But I'm confident", says museum director Blome, "that the Tutankhamun exhibition will also attract visitors from other parts of Europe. And visits from school classes are important for us. After all, the treasures we're showing are part of the world cultural heritage and therefore also of the history of all of us."
The admission prices for "Tutankhamun - The Golden Beyond" have not yet been finalized, but there will be a sliding scale. Tickets will be on sale from advanced sales outlets and from a special Museum of Ancient Art call centre from early 2004 on.
Global financial services provider UBS is supporting the exhibition "Tutankhamun - The Golden Beyond" as the Presenting Sponsor. "We have enjoyed a close partnership with the Basel Museum of Ancient Art, ever since we supported the construction of the Egypt Gallery. Helping to present these incomparable treasures of the Pharaohs to a broad public from Switzerland and the rest of Europe is a unique opportunity for us. So we're delighted to support this project," says Marcel Ospel, Chairman of UBS's Board of Directors.
For further information or illustrative material, please contact:
Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection
+41 (0)61 271 22 02
UBS AG, Media Relations
+41 (0)1 234 85 00
Basel, 7 October 2003
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