A King Tut exhibit kicks off in L.A. in March, sparking hopes of tourism gold

People line up for the "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in July 2005. A new exhibit of King Tut artifacts will kick off in Los Angeles at the California Science Center in March.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A 10-city tour of artifacts from the tomb of the world’s most famous boy king is kicking off in Los Angeles, and exhibit sponsors are projecting a multimillion-dollar tourist spending spree during the show’s 10-month stint.

“King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh,” an exhibition of artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, is scheduled to open March 24 at the California Science Center, adjacent to the USC campus.

The interest in displays of King Tut objects has rivaled performances by big musical acts or sporting events.


A similar exhibit generated $168 million in economic impact when it came to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for five months in 2005, drawing nearly 1 million visitors.

Another exhibit of King Tut’s relics at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute in 2007 drew 1.3 million visitors and sparked $127 million in spending.

The new exhibit’s sponsors are projecting that tourists who come to town for the show will spend from $109 million to $272 million. Total economic impact could reach as high as $352 million, including an estimated 1,045 jobs that could be created or supported by the exhibit, according to a study by Emsi, a economic analysis firm.

“We agree that King Tut will be a significant draw for prospective visitors to Los Angeles, especially given that we are the first destination on its global tour,” said Don Skeoch, chief marketing officer for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

The original 1978 L.A. visit of King Tut items, a 55-artifact exhibit called “Treasures of Tutankhamun,” put LACMA on the cultural map in a big way as it mounted one of the first museum mega-shows.

In all, 1.25 million Angelenos were willing to stand in long lines for timed entry spots during the four-month exhibit. Museum membership doubled that year.


The upcoming exhibit, presented by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, will include more than 150 artifacts. The collection, the largest ever displayed outside Egypt, will be shown until early January 2019 before moving to Europe.

The artifacts include a life-size statue of Tutankhamun, a ceremonial bed for his funeral, 3D visuals and a golden shrine that depicts a scene between the king and his wife, Ankhesenamun.

Because the show is expected to be sold out quickly, pre-registration for tickets opened Wednesday through Jan. 8 to reserve tickets that go on sale in mid-January.

Ticket prices will range from $19.20 to $29.95, with discounts for members, students, seniors and groups.

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2:30 p.m.: This story was updated to include a quote from a representative from the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.

This article was originally published at 10:10 a.m.