Antiquities and Archaeology
King Tut replicas for Manchester mall
German promoter spends €15m on reproductions
By Martin Bailey. News, Issue 217, October 2010
Published online: 21 October 2010
MANCHESTER. One of Britain’s largest shopping centres is to host a Tutankhamun exhibition. On 22 October “Tutankhamun: His Tomb and his Treasures” opens at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. It is billed as “currently the world’s largest touring exhibition”, with over 1,000 objects. The weekend admission charge is £16.
The show is marketed as: “A major exhibition of the international archaeological sensation, featuring a spectacular reconstruction of the Pharaoh’s tomb and treasures”. Although this is strictly accurate, visitors may come expecting real treasures inside a reconstructed tomb. The objects are actually all replicas.
German promoter Dieter Semmelmann admits: “It is extremely unusual—to put it mildly—for a concert agency to organise an exhibition.” His company, Semmel Concerts, usually arranges rock and pop festivals.
Semmelmann has spent €15m to create full-size replicas of items found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. This took five years, with the objects made in Cairo, at the College of Fine Arts.
Paul Heinen, who masterminded the project, says that it would be very difficult to borrow the originals, and claims the original gold mask of Tutankhamun is insured for $6bn. However, as the mask is now never allowed to leave Cairo, it is very unlikely to be insured.
What may come as a surprise is that the Trafford Centre exhibition appears to have been blessed by Professor Wilfried Seipel, the former general director of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. He is listed as a contributor to the catalogue, and the press materials include a reprint of his essay “Replicas solve many problems”.
There are now three sets of replicas touring. One opened in Cologne (EXPO XXI) on 24 September and will go to Brussels next May. A second is in Madrid (Casa de Campo) and moves to Dublin in November. The third set runs at Manchester until 27 February 2011, and then continues to Pittsburgh next April.
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