After 30 years, Tut returns to Toronto

A Toronto scientist has a special relationship with King Tut. And for Egyptologist Ronald Leprohon it’s been going on for more than 30 years.

“I think there’s a magic there,” he said.

From the time the Tut artifacts came to Toronto in the 1970s until now, the U of T professor has recognized their stunning workmanship and elegance.

“(They’re) something that was made so long ago by a craftsman who did this for the good of his ruler who believed in resurrection and so made all these magnificent things for his king,” he said.

The King Tut exhibit opened to the public yesterday at the Art Gallery of Ontario and will remain on display until April 18, 2010.

At a recent media conference, Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO director and CEO, remembered back to his first encounter with the King Tut displays.

“I remember the exhibit 30 years ago and it was a moment of great discovery for me,” Teitelbaum said. “And I hope today’s exhibit with will a moment of great discovery for people of all ages.”

Teiltelbaum knows that with the help of the new Frank Gehry-designed museum, the King Tut exhibit has not fallen into the trap of replication. He hopes that this will be an opportunity to initiate the cultural conversation throughout the generations.

“Children that came with their parents 30 years ago will bring their children,” Teitelbaum said. “We have created for Toronto an institution of discovery.”

Since the first King Tut exhibit back in 1979, Leprohon explained, archeologists have made new findings, thanks in part to the scientific improvements and technological advancements. These findings are making their North American debut in the AGO King Tut exhibit.

“This relatively recent discovery is important because it lets us understand how the culture worked, how the society worked,” Leprohon said.

The AGO is not alone in its attempt to expose the exhibit to new gallery visitors. In an effort to allow as many members of the next generation to take full advantage of King Tut’s exclusive Canadian showing, AGO’s partner, Northern Trust has donated 200 VIP tickets.

They will go to the Kids Up Front Foundation, an organization that allows underprivileged youth to experience activities through the donation of tickets to selected events.

Kate Nazar, VP of Northern Trust Canada, see her company’s initiative as a means of sharing this cultural highpoint with all members of Toronto’s community.

“We wanted to focus on the educational factor of this exhibition,” Nazar said. “We want to make sure young children are able to experience this before it goes back to Cairo forever.”

Not a child anymore, U of T’s Leprohon still finds the exhibit enthralling: “There’s the object right there in front of you,” he said, “still talking to you after 3,000 years.”

Tickets for the King Tut exhibit can be purchased online at