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L to R: Gold Wesekh Collar and Counterpoise Vulture with Spread Wings and Uraeus, Gold Inlaid Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun Dedicated to Imseti and Isis, Gilden Wooden Figure of Tutankhamun on a Skiff.
Photograph: Supplied/Australian Museum

Sydney’s blockbuster King Tutankhamun exhibition has been cancelled

The Australian Museum was set to host the collection of ancient Egyptian treasures

Alannah Maher

If certain global events had not transpired in the past year, Sydney would currently be hosting a giant exhibition centred on famous ancient Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun. Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh is said to be the most significant collection of artefacts to ever leave Egypt, with more than 150 items from Tutankhamun's tomb, and was set to run here for six months from February 2021. Alas, the collection has been returned to Cairo, Egypt.

When the Australian Museum closed its doors for a major facelift in 2019, Sydneysiders were promised that the blockbuster exhibition would be the crowning glory of the major facelift that closed the museum for 15 months. The Tutankhamun exhibition was last year postponed indefinitely, giving the museum time to bring its own touring exhibition, Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family, back for its reopening in November. Now the museum has confirmed that the King Tut exhibition has been called off for good. IMG, the company responsible for staging the exhibition, cited the global impacts of you-know-what as the reason. 

“The Australian Museum is saddened that the Tutankhamun exhibition has been cancelled,” director and CEO Kim McKay said in a statement. “However, we are already negotiating for a new touring Egyptian exhibition and hope to announce details soon.”

In the next three years, the Australian Museum will also open its first permanent Egypt Gallery, which will display its collection of historical artefacts. In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibitions, the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition remains on display in Hintze Hall until Sunday, May 9 (included with free general admission), and the next special exhibition to open in the touring exhibition hall in early May will be Indigenous collection Unsettled.

The Australian Museum is currently open daily from 10am to 5pm, and entry is free. Bookings are not currently required, however capacities are being carefully monitored.

Want to see mummies? Check out Sydney’s other new museum.

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