News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events, University News

Oct. 29,  2008

Photo Exhibit a Companion to 'King Tut'

The thrill of discovery, chronicled as a turning-point in the appreciation of ancient art and societies, connects the exhibition “Wonderful Things: The Harry Burton Photographs and the Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun” at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University to “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center.

On view at the Carlos Museum from Nov. 15, 2008 to May 25, 2009, “Wonderful Things” brings to Atlanta 50 photographs showcasing the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. These photographs not only bring to life the excitement of the discovery and excavation of the tomb, but also highlight Harry Burton’s artistic genius as he captured some of the most evocative images ever put on film. Visitors will see how the photographs were taken, the way in which they were used, and how these images of the excavation captured the imagination of the world.

Providing context to the objects from the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Atlanta Civic Center, “Wonderful Things” highlights some of the great puzzles and unforgettable masterpieces from the reign of the “boy king.”

Dr. Peter Lacovara, Senior Curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art, said, “The Atlanta community will get a glimpse into what it took to bring Tutankhamun’s treasures to the world, the atmosphere in which they were discovered, and the opening they provided archaeologists in their search to understand this ancient civilization.” Harry Burton’s photography is made more remarkable by his use of primitive equipment under difficult conditions. 

In addition to Burton’s world famous photographs the exhibit will also show his experimentation with motion pictures and color photography as well as the ways his photographs popularized the discovery of the tomb. On view will also be objects that highlight Howard Carter’s career and his search for the tomb, including drinking vessels of Tutankhamun, on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, that led to the discovery and a rare sculpture of the boy king himself. 

Harry Burton’s iconic photographs at the Carlos Museum include one of Tutankhamun’s mummy mask and another depicting Anubis, god of mummification and the journey into the afterlife, protecting Tutankhamun's canopic shrine containing his internal organs. Also included is a painting by Howard Carter lent by London collector, Rupert Wace, that highlights Carter’s talent as an artist and his love of Egyptian art.

Wonderful Things: The Photography of Harry Burton and the Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun captures every step of the archaeologists' painstakingly detailed work in and around the tomb, one of the first large-scale excavations to be so thoroughly recorded. Harry Burton took more than 1400 large format black-and-white images to try to document the experience of the discovery and excavation.

The photographs in the exhibition document the Valley of the Kings, the initial discovery of the tomb, the dramatic moment when the excavators first glimpsed the dazzling array of artifacts, the entry to the burial chamber, the series of shrines and coffins that protected the king, and the king's mummy, wreathed in floral collars and bedecked with gold jewelry.

The discovery of these treasures could have easily escaped archeologists. Tutankhamun’s tomb was small and of “non-royal proportions” – it was later covered by debris from the construction of the Tomb of Ramesses VI. On Nov. 4, 1922, archaeologist, Howard Carter, discovered the sealed doorway, stamped with the name of Tutankhamun and quickly cabled his benefactor, Lord Carnarvon. Two weeks later, standing in front of his benefactor, as he opened the door to the tomb, Carter described the moment, when the “details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist” with Lord Carnarvon inquiring anxiously, “What do you see?” Carter said, “I see wonderful things.”

The Carlos Museum has a slate of educational events and collaborative initiatives planned for both the “Tutankhamun” exhibition and “Wonderful Things.” In conjunction with “Wonderful Things” visitors will be able to attend informational events such as “Lots and Lots of Wonderful Things: Provisioning Tutankhamun’s Tomb,” a Dec. 1, 2008 lecture by Dr. Peter Lacovara, and “Harry Burton, the Pharaoh’s Photographer” a lecture on Jan. 29, 2009, by Catharine Roehrig, Curator of Egyptian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Family events include a workshop by Atlanta photographer, Angela West, who will teach children to use a large format camera and paper negatives to make their own photographs. For more information, visit

Carlos Museum members have an opportunity to preview this exhibition on Nov. 8 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for free. “The Harry Burton exhibition is a unique and evocative glimpse into one of the most profound discoveries of our time -- one that has moved so many people around the world. We are indeed honored to provide this companion exhibition as an added educational and cultural experience to further illuminate the life and times of Tutankhamun and the great pharaohs,” said Bonnie Speed, Director of the Carlos Museum.

Harry Burton was an accomplished archaeological photographer who began working in Egypt in 1910. In 1914, he joined the staff of the Egyptian Expedition of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. When Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, Burton's services were loaned to the British team. Two sets of Burton negatives exist, one in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the other with Howard Carter's papers now in the Griffith Institute, Oxford, UK.

The prints to be exhibited at the Carlos Museum are being loaned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Griffith Institute. Admission is $7; $5 with a Tutankhamun exhibition ticket stub; free to Museum members and Emory University faculty, staff, and students. There will be a member preview on Nov. 8, 2008. For more information, visit

About the "Tut" treasures

“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” spans 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history -- from the 4th Dynasty to the Late Period -- between 2600 - 660 BC. This exhibition includes many artifacts never before seen in the United States and features more than 130 extraordinary objects, including many from the reign of Tutankhamun, as well as treasures from the most significant Egyptian pharaohs.

This exhibition places Tutankhamun in the context of ancient Egyptian culture and focuses on the splendor of the Egyptian pharaohs, the significance of kingship to the ancient Egyptian people, and the intricate and symbolic ceremonies related to life and death in the palace. Viewers will get a sense of how life and art evolved over many generations in ancient Egypt.

Developed in partnership in Atlanta with Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, the Tutankhamun exhibition is organized by National Geographic, Arts and Exhibitions International and AEG Exhibitions with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Northern Trust is the presenting sponsor, and American Airlines is the official airline.

“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” will include not only extraordinary finds from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other tombs in the Valley of the Kings but also from temples, palaces and other ancient Egyptian sites. These magnificent artworks range in size from tiny intricately carved jewels to the colossal 10-ft statue of King Tutankhamun, himself.

Visitors will see artifacts from some of the most powerful rulers of Egypt, such as Hatshepsut, the queen who became king and Psusennes I, whose magnificent golden death mask will be on display. Four galleries devoted to King Tut will correspond to the four rooms of his nearly intact tomb where the treasures were discovered by British explorer Howard Carter in 1922. Legendary artifacts from the antechamber, the annex, the treasury and the burial chamber will include Tutankhamun’s golden sandals, jewelry, furniture, weaponry and statuary.

The final gallery will feature CT scans of Tutankhamun that were obtained as part of a landmark, Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by the National Geographic Society. These scans were captured through the use of a portable CT scanner, donated by Siemens Medical Solutions, which allowed researchers to compile the first three-dimensional picture of Tutankhamun and discover more about his life and death.

About the museum

Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University brings to the Atlanta community priceless treasures mapping an extraordinary breadth of ancient cultures, customs, and legacies. Some 16,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome, the Americas, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as works on paper from the Renaissance to the present day, provide visitors with a glimpse into the art and history of world cultures.

Located at the heart of Emory University's Atlanta campus and exhibited in the landmark building designed by noted architect Michael Graves, these works of art and artifacts reveal the Carlos Museum's meticulous care for the legacy of ancient civilizations and the learning opportunities innate in each artifact.

A 1985 interior renovation, along with a 35,000-square-foot expansion in 1993 made the in-depth display of the museum’s permanent collections possible, and transformed the Carlos Museum into a destination for special exhibitions. From locally organized exhibitions to those from nationally and internationally celebrated institutions, including the Louvre, British Museum, and Israel Museum, the Carlos Museum serves as the South's premier museum of ancient art.

The Carlos Museum’s educational programming -- with an active schedule of lectures, symposia, workshops, performances, and summer camps -- benefits all who interact with the museum community.

The Carlos Museum’s conservation program is unique in the Southeast. In addition to conducting scientific analysis and treatment of museum collections, the Carlos Conservation Laboratory also offers teaching and training opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in art, conservation, preservation, and science.  

Founded in 1919, the Michael C. Carlos Museum has long been dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting art and artifacts from antiquity to the present. The museum aims to provide unique opportunities for education and enrichment in the community, and to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research at Emory University.

Location: 571 South Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, Georgia 30322,  Telephone: 404.727.4282 Fax: 404.727.4292

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday 12 noon - 5 p.m. (Closed on Mondays and University holidays) Admission: $7 donation; $3 with Tutankhamun ticket stub; Free for Carlos Museum members and Emory University faculty, students, and staff. Public Tours: Free docent-led tours of the Museum depart from the Rotunda on Level One every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. during the Emory academic year (call 404.727.4282 to confirm). See


News Release Tools