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NOLA Life Stories: John Bullard Remembers King Tut, 'The Mother Of All Blockbusters,' At NOMA

The Historic New Orleans Collection
John Bullard directed the New Orleans Museum of Art from 1973 to 2010.

For 37 years, John Bullard directed the New Orleans Museum of Art and oversaw many blockbuster shows during his tenure.

French Impressionists always drew large crowds, and subjects like The Gold of El Dorado and Alexander the Great were well received, but none compared to the Treasures of Tutankhamun. The ancient boy king had become a cultural sensation by the late 1970s, when New Orleans became ground zero for "Tut-Mania."

The exhibit helped transform NOMA into what it is today. During the four months that King Tut was in town, nearly 800,000 people visited the museum and membership more than tripled. It was also around this time that NOMA acquired important works by Picasso and Miro, a donation given by New Orleans native Victor Kiam.

Bullard explains how one donation can "transform a museum and send it in a new direction."


This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collection. 

Thomas Walsh is an independent radio producer and audio engineer who lives in New Orleans. You'll see him around town recording music, podcasts, short films, live events and radio features. He's practically glued to his headphones. A movie geek to his core, he's seen every film listed on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies and would love to talk to you about them.