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Blakeview: King Tut in New Orleans

"The Treasures of Tutankhamun" opened Sept. 18, 1977

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This week marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of a blockbuster exhibit that drew thousands of visitors to the New Orleans Museum of Art, taking the city by storm. The Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibit opened Sept. 18, 1977. NOMA staff and volunteers, led by museum director E. John Bullard and exhibition coordinator Betty McDermott, spent nearly two years preparing for the exhibit, which visited seven U.S. cities. It featured 55 artifacts found inside the tomb of Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun when it was discovered in 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter. Among the most spectacular pieces was King Tut's solid gold death mask. Many will remember that the thoroughfare leading to the museum was painted in vivid blue by artist Emery Clark. Her NOMA Nile installation was designed to resemble the Nile River. A jazz funeral featuring the Olympia Brass Band and trumpet-playing coroner Frank Minyard closed the exhibit Jan. 15, 1978, the same day Super Bowl XII was played at the Superdome. More than 870,000 people visited the exhibit during the four months it was at NOMA. "If Tut had stayed long enough, he might have been the first posthumous King of Carnival," reporter Jeanie Blake wrote in The Times-Picayune the day after the exhibit left for Los Angeles.

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