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Tut's mask or canopic coffinette?

by Kate C
Publish date
8 July 2011
Comments (43)

A common question about the Tutankhamun exhibition is whether King Tut's funerary mask and mummy are on display.

Tutankhamun’s funerary mask and mummy are two of the most valuable artefacts in the world and the Egyptian Government has ruled that neither can travel outside Egypt because they are too fragile. The object pictured on promotional material for the exhibition is actually Tutankhamun’s canopic coffinette, an exquisite miniature replica of King Tut’s sarcophogus. Four of them were discovered in his tomb, each holding vital organs. The canopic coffinette that is on display in the exhibition at Melbourne Museum held his liver. Like the funerary mask, it too displays the face of the Boy King.

  Tutankhamun's golden canopic coffinette Tutankhamun's golden canopic coffinette, which held his mummified liver. A cropped image of this exhibition artefact features on promotional posters.
Source: Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The funerary mask is display in Cairo at the Egyptian Museum and has not left Egypt since the 1970s. It is quite different to the coffinette and sarcophagi not only in size, but because it portrays his head and shoulders only and does not show his hands holding a ceremonial flail and crook.

Tuthankamun's famous burial mask Tuthankamun's famous funerary mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
Source: Used under CC BY-SA 3.0 courtesy of Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

As for his mummy and sarcophagi, these could never be displayed in the exhibition because they have never left the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Nevertheless, a replica of his mummy and a multimedia projection of the many layers of sarcophagi can be seen at Melbourne Museum in the National Geographic gallery, which is located outside the exhibition entrance.


We have two tickets to Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs to give away to a blog reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post by noon (local time) on Friday 16 July with your answer to this question:

What would you ask Howard Carter if he were still alive?

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.