Let's get the big question settled right off the bat. No, King Tut's penis will not be in "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and Great Pharaohs," opening Feb. 18 at the Science Museum in St. Paul. The exhibit will have really amazing ancient treasures, including a 10-foot-tall statue of the boy king, the solid gold sandals he wore in his tomb and a little golden coffin that once held his mummified stomach.
But even Stephen Colbert's three-part "investigation" last year couldn't pry the king's 3,300-year-old penis away from Egyptian museum officials.
Curator David Silverman played straight man at a news conference Thursday in St. Paul, as he did on TV's "Colbert Report" in December, debunking the comedian's conspiracy theory about Tut's penis: "It was there in 1922 but when the mummy got a CAT scan in 2005, someone noted it was missing. Apparently there were some X-rays taken in the 1960s during which the mummy was moved and the penis fell off into the sand. So [an Egyptian antiquities official] went through the sand and found it."
Tut's body remains in Egypt while the 130-piece exhibit, which includes 50 Tut objects and things from other royal tombs, is in St. Paul through Sept. 5. It's the largest exhibit the museum has ever hosted, senior vice president Mike Day said.
The museum expects the show to be at least as popular as "Body Worlds," a 2006 exhibition of preserved human bodies that attracted 750,000 visitors. Tickets -- at $16 to $30 -- will be sold for specific times to avoid overcrowding. No more than 600 people an hour will be admitted to the 12 galleries.
Officials unveiled one item Thursday, an elegant portrait head of Tut made from a translucent ivory stone called calcite. It was one of four stoppers atop a chest that once held miniature coffins containing the king's mummified lungs, liver, stomach and intestines. As officials hovered and cameras clicked, two Egyptian attendants wheeled the sculpture into the gallery on a rolling cart. Wearing blue rubber gloves, one then carefully lifted the head into a glass case outside the "Burial Chamber" gallery.
Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431