COSI hosts King Tut exhibit


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Photos courtesy of Shannon Elise Dillman
A replica of the iconic 22 pound solid gold funerary mask of Tutanhkamun is one of 1,000 artifacts on display at the exhibit, “Tutanhkamun: His Tomb and his Treasure,” at COSI.

Ancient Egyptian culture – with its royalty, treasures, and monumental structures – is fascinating.

One can experience this rich history with a visit to the “Tutanhkamun: His Tomb and his Treasures” exhibition at COSI, 333 W Broad St. in Columbus, and imagine oneself at Howard Carter’s side when he discovered “wonderful things” in the tomb in 1922.

The young King Tut ascended the throne at age nine and a decade later he was gone. Despite the short duration of his reign, his legacy to the world, created more than 3,300 years ago, endures in the artifacts found in the Valley of the Kings on Feb. 16, 1922.

The Tut exhibit, housed in a 15,000 square foot gallery space at COSI until Sept. 4, started traveling the world a decade ago, but COSI is its only stop in the United States during the 100-year anniversary celebration of Carter’s discovery.

A childlike wonder fills visitors when they enter the gallery space and see a true-to-scale reproduction of the vision that first greeted Carter when he and his workers broke through a stone entrance. A feeling of amazement rises when the lights come up on the golden and alabaster replicas – ones that accompanied a boy as he grew into a man before he was interred with them for what was hoped to be eternity under the sands of Egypt.

A meticulous reproduction of Tut on a boat is one of 1,000 artifacts on display at the exhibit, “Tutanhkamun: His Tomb and his Treasure,” at COSI.

An adjacent room presents a series of graduated gold shrines and a quartzite sarcophagus situated like inscribed nesting dolls. They lead to three coffins of precious metals and stones once stacked inside the sarcophagus. The walls, like those in the actual tomb, were embellished with reproductions of depictions of the netherworld in colors delicately first rendered in the 18th dynasty.

And then there is a replica of the iconic 22 pound solid gold funerary mask of Tutanhkamun, which was originally adorned with real lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise and obsidian. It was a work of art handcrafted by modern Egyptian artisans with the painstaking accuracy of the original.

Turning a corner, artifacts filled the next gallery—there are a total of 1,000 throughout the full exhibit—such as heirlooms in the form of tiny gold coffins commemorating Tutankhamun’s infant daughters, jewelry and breastplates that adorned the king’s mummy and four alabaster Canopic jars holding Tut’s embalmed organs.

The jars were interred in a gilded canopic shrine guarded by four goddesses articulately dressed in bright gold with hands outspread. The full size replicas also include a breathtaking royal seat carved out of wood and covered in gold and silver with semi-precious stones and colored glass. Funerary fans flank the chair—thought to be a possible throne.

A full scale replica of a state chariot (one theory proposes Tut died as a result of complications from a chariot accident) stood exactly as it was discovered in the tomb, with broken straps and worn paint. It sat regally alongside sandals featuring images of Tut’s vanquished enemies on the soles of the shoe.

The originals are national treasures, fragile and are not on display while Egypt awaits the late 2023 opening of their Grand Egyptian Museum. However, the replicas are as exquisite and worth more than one trip to the exhibit.

Kelli Kinzig, COSI’s senior project manager, said everything in the exhibit, from the tiniest piece of jewelry to the golden shrines, is an exact replica that allow visitors to get close without glass cases hindering the way.

According to Kinzig, the project was 18 months in development from an online survey of possible exhibitions to opening the doors to the public on March 18.
When asked about mounting an endeavor like “Tutankhamun: His Tomb and His Treasures,”

Kinzig said, “It was a 14-day installation with 15 people such as riggers, audio-visual, lighting techs, artists, and painters, working on it.”

A crew of experienced workers travels with the exhibit, which most recently appeared in Belgium.

“It’s traveled all over the world for multiple years,” said Kinzig. “It’s produced by Semmel, which is a German company. It’s the same company that created and produced the Marvel exhibition (which ran for six months at COSI in 2021-22). I feel this exhibition is for all ages. I’m sure people will see something unique.”

General admission combined with timed admission for the Tutankhamun exhibit is $40 for ages 13 and up; $15 for teachers with identification; $38 for military and ages 60 and older; $33 for youth ages 2-12 and free for children under age 2. Reservations available online at


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