Tutankhamun's Yorkshire links unmasked in new exhibition at Experience Barnsley

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A YORKSHIRE town's amazing links and crucial role in the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb is celebrated in a new exhibition which marks the centenary.

TUT’22: the Life of Tutankhamun at Experience Barnsley – now open until March 18, 2023 – is curated by the town's BAFTA award winning TV Egyptologist Prof Joann Fletcher who is writing Harold Jones back into the history books.

Barnsley-born artist-turned-archaeologist Jones uncovered some of the first clues to the location of the tomb and she believes he would have found it first if he had not died tragically young from tuberculosis in the Valley Of The Kings a few years earlier.

His clues led his friends Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter to build on his legacy and to discover the tomb on November 4,1922.

FREE TUT22 GUIDE: Find out more about this amazing Tut22 exhibition and workshops with Prof Fletcher, including booking links, in the official free guide now available online – CLICK HERE

The free entry exhibition also highlights links with the Spencer-Stanhope family of Barnsley’s Cannon Hall including their friendship with Lord Amherst, the man who funded Howard Carter's excavations at Amarna, where Tutankhamun was born.

The Spencer-Stanhopes employed William and Thomas Midgley, the first curators of Bolton Museum’s renowned Egyptian collection of which almost 300 items are on loan for the Tut22 free exhibition in Barnsley.

Three years in the planning, the exhibition blends traditional artefacts and replicas from Tutankhamun’s birthplace Amarna and related sites in Egypt, with mesmerising new technologies to highlight the greatest archaeological discovery of all time.

Visitors can even get a selfie with Tut's iconic golden death mask and other tomb treasures by making them appear in the exhibition space like holograms in 3D using a free augmented reality app - groundbreaking new work by Barnsley based Front Row Live.

A 3,400 year old jewellery mould, featuring the ankh hieroglyph symbol for life and featured in Tutankhamun's name, has also been scanned to create 100 lucky charm amulets which will be available in the gift shop, with a profit share to Barnsley and Bolton museums.

Tutankhamun's royal family tree is represented with busts of his family - including a life size replica of the famed Nefertiti head.

There are objects relating to Tutankhamun’s birth, the palace he grew up in, the kind of food and drink he ate, the types of clothes and jewellery he would have worn, his hairstyles, cosmetics and perfumes, as well as objects representing his childhood and education, and figures and images of the gods he worshipped.

Prof Joanne Fletcher pictured with a bust of Tutankhamen,  at Experience, Barnsley. Picture by Simon HulmeProf Joanne Fletcher pictured with a bust of Tutankhamen,  at Experience, Barnsley. Picture by Simon Hulme
Prof Joanne Fletcher pictured with a bust of Tutankhamen, at Experience, Barnsley. Picture by Simon Hulme

For more information about the exhibition, including Experience Barnsley opening times, workshops and more visit www.experience-barnsley.com.

Prof Fletcher said: “This collaboration between Bolton Museum and Barnsley Museums is unique.

“There are incredible links to Barnsley and stories that have never been told. It’s a local history story as well as an international one and it really will help us mark the centenary in a very special way.

"I could never have done any of this without the help of some amazing people, including Ian Trumble of Bolton Museum, Barnsley Museums' Lynn Dunning, Alison Cooper and Devinia Skirrow, The Egypt Exploration Society, the amazing wizardry of Graham Walker and Front Row Live's Josh and Harry Walker, Egyptologist and film-maker Marc Chica, who has flown over from Barcelona just for this event, and not least of all my partner Dr Stephen Buckley."

Prof Joann Fletcher up close with the real golden death mask in CairoProf Joann Fletcher up close with the real golden death mask in Cairo
Prof Joann Fletcher up close with the real golden death mask in Cairo

Of the role played by Barnsley's Harold Jones she said: " In many ways he was way ahead of Howard Carter. It was Jones who first realised the significance of the then little known name Tutankhamun and he was first talent spotted by Lord and Lady Carnarvon, staying with them at their family seat Highclere Castle - aka Downton Abbey.

"I firmly believe our lad Harold Jones would have found the tomb of Tutankhamun had he not died tragically young. His funeral was arranged by pals Carter and Carnarvon, who followed the clues Jones had found to finally discover the tomb in 1922."

TUT’22: the life of Tutankhamun runs from October 22 to March 18 2023. For more visit www.experience-barnsley.com.

MAKE A DONATION: Tut22 is a free entry exhibition but you can make a donation to Barnsley Museums and Heritage Trust which supports the town’s five museums including Experience Barnsley, Cooper Gallery, Cannon Hall Museum, Elsecar Heritage Centre and Worsbrough Mill – find out more and make a donation at www.bmht.org.

* Resurrecting Ancient Egypt: A Monumental Yorkshire Journey, a Barnsley Museums touring exhibiting of Kyte Photography photos highlighting Egyptian inspired Yorkshire architecture and also curated by Prof Fletcher, opens at Scarborough Art Gallery, Nov 5 to March 18, 2023. For more information visit scarboroughmuseumsandgalleries.org.uk.