Wall paintings conservation work being conducted in the burial chamber of the tomb in the spring 2016.
Courtesy of J.Paul Getty Trust
Cailey Rizzo
Updated January 31, 2019

After nine years of restoration, Tutankhamun (AKA King Tut)’s tomb is making its grand re-debut.

Since its discovery in 1922, the tomb has become one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. By the ‘80s, the tomb was receiving thousands of visitors every day. The impact of that many people on the thousands-year-old tomb was already beginning to have an effect. Carbon monoxide from visitors’ breath, exposure to moisture, and small bumps and scratches were wearing away the tomb.

Wall paintings conservation work being conducted in the burial chamber of the tomb in the wonter 2016.
Courtesy of J.Paul Getty Trust

In 2009, the Getty Conservation Institute partnered with Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities to complete the most rigorous exploration of the tomb since it was first discovered almost 100 years ago.

Conservators using a portable microscope linked to a tablet to monitor the paintings on the west wall and environmental monitoring.
Courtesy of J.Paul Getty Trust

“The crux of our project was to figure out how to manage the level of visitation and then also to continue to maintain the tomb in good condition for the future,” Laurie Wong, a wall paintings expert from the Getty Conservation Institute, told Artnet News.

The tomb still houses some of the original objects found in the 1922 discovery, including Tutankhamun’s mummy itself, now displayed in an oxygen-free case. Visitors can also see King Tut’s quartzite sarcophagus, the wooden outermost coffin and the wall paintings that depict the pharaoh's life and death.

The north wall of the burial chamber depicts three separate scenes, ordered from right to left. In the first, Ay, Tutankhamen’s successor, performs the “opening of the mouth” ceremony on Tutankhamen, who is depicted as Osiris, lord of the underworld.
Courtesy of J.Paul Getty Trust
East wall of the tomb’s burial chamber. Tutankhamen’s mummy is shown, lying in a shrine mounted on a sledge, being drawn by twelve men in five groups. The men wear white mourning bands over their brows. The last pair, distinguished by their shaven heads and different dress, are the two viziers of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Courtesy of J.Paul Getty Trust

Additions to the tomb include a new viewing platform, an updated air filtration system, and improved walkways, signs, and lights.

In addition to works of preservation, the team was also working on conservation and exploration. Conservators concluded that King Tut’s death was probably unexpected (he died at age 19) and that the tomb was not originally intended for him.

Wall paintings conservation work being conducted in the burial chamber of the tomb in the spring 2016.
Courtesy of J.Paul Getty Trust

The project was so expensive that the Getty Conservation Institute declined to give a figure on how much it cost. It was originally supposed to be completed in 2014 but was delayed several times due to the start of the Arab Spring in 2011 and political unrest in 2013.

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