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Egypt's outspoken crusader for cultural objects, Dr. Zahi Hawass, has been demanding the repatriation of Egyptian antiquities from museums worldwide. At the same time, he has endorsed two touring exhibitions of Egypt's most prized ancient treasures.
On June 25, Dr. Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt, will be a special guest of the Denver Art Museum. VIP ticket holders to the museum's gala "Flappers and Pharoahs," a fundraising event for 'Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,' will be able to hear Dr. Hawass wax on about the fifty pieces from King Tut's tomb on display.
A portion of the exhibition's proceeds are earmarked for antiquities preservation and conservation efforts in Egypt, including the construction of a new grand museum in Cairo. Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities supports the exhibition.
One highlight, among the many treasures never-before-seen in the U.S., are the golden sandals found on the boy king's mummy.
Another crowd-pleaser is the largest known image of King Tut – a 10-foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials.
According to his website, Dr. Hawass, who is an archaeologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, has successfully negotiated the return of some 5,000 antiquities to Egypt. Notably, the Louvre bent to his pressure to return five fragments stolen from the tomb of Tetiky.
Dr. Hawass is, at times, a controversial media magnet. His latest headline-grabbing battle cry is for Germany's Neues Museum to give back the bust of Nefertiti which he says was illegally smuggled out of Egypt.
The King Tut exhibition, which debuted in Atlanta in 2009, runs in Denver from June 29, 2010, to January 9, 2011.