Egypt Antiquities Minister Khalid al-Anani said on Friday that the ministry did not hide its plans to organize an exhibition containing 166 artifacts belonging to the young pharaoh Tutankhamun.
He added that the exhibition is scheduled to tour seven foreign countries, starting from Los Angeles, USA on March 23 and will continue over the next 7 years.
The exhibition includes 166 artifacts, not including the basic pieces of Tutankhamun, Anani said, adding that the full collection of Tutankhamun contains about 5,000 pharaonic pieces, and are scheduled to be displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is scheduled to be inaugurated by the end of this year.
Gharib Sonbol, head of the Central Administration of Restoration and a member of the Foreign Exhibitions Committee, said that an imprint was prepared for all the artifacts that are scheduled to travel to ensure that the pieces will not falsified or replaced.
A Facebook campaign for academics and scholars from within and outside the Antiquities Ministry has called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene and open an investigation into the exhibition.
Egypt’s Heritage Task Force said that the duration of the show abroad is 7 years, and the income of the exhibition is close to US$50 million, in addition to the insurance value of these exhibits close to US$600 million.
Monika Hanna, a member of the campaign, said that what the ministry intends to do with the exhibition is a “catastrophe.” She added that the monuments will remain outside Egypt for 7 years, and wondered if the inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum will be delayed until that time.
The archeological artefacts law allows for the rental of duplicates, not originals, and leasing to scientific bodies or museums, not private companies as are the terms of this contract. She noted that the insurance value of the golden coffin of Tutankhamun is low, amounting to only US$5 million, and said that the company may pay it to Egypt and claim it was stolen.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm