Protecting Tutankhamun’s Ivory Fan at the Grand Egyptian Museum

16 Feb 2023

Exactly 100 years ago, British archaeologist Howard Carter and Arthur Callender opened King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. Despite discovering King Tutankhamun’s tomb in late 1922, archaeologists had to work their way the outer chambers for months before arriving at door of the burial chamber. When they unsealed the door, they uncovered the most well-preserved and intact pharaonic tomb ever found, overflowing with opulent and intriguing artifacts. Goppion has been entrusted with the protection of many of these extraordinary objects for the Grand Egyptian Museum’s new Tutankhamun Gallery, designed by Atelier Brückner.

One particularly fragile and significant object was found nestled in a wooden treasure box: the king’s own ivory fan, complete with the original ostrich feathers gathered by Tutankhamun on his hunting expeditions. The ivory handle is beautifully decorated, inlaid with various pigments and encircled with bands of gold. The 3,300-year-old feathers are incredibly well-preserved and extremely fragile; the strictest conservation requirements were paramount for displaying the fan. In order to best protect this delicate artifact, we developed a case-in-case solution following the highest conservation standards. The fan is sealed inside a small, extremely airtight (less than 0.1 AER) showcase with nitrogen system and temperature control, which is housed inside a larger case with other objects, also equipped with active climate control.

The Grand Egyptian Museum represents 3,500 years of ancient Egyptian history, revealed through a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts, including the entire collection of relics from Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Goppion has engineered and installed highly customized, elegant, conservation-grade display cases, including customized internal fittings, to protect the Grand Egyptian Museum’s brimming treasure trove of ancient and delicate artifacts. We are honored to be part of this colossal project and eagerly await the much-anticipated opening later this year.