An exhibition featuring treasures linked to Egypt's youngest pharaoh Tutankhamun became the most-visited exhibition in French history after it attracted over 1.3 million visitors in Paris. Based at the city's La Villette park, the display has beaten France's previous record of 1.2 million visitors for a much smaller 1967 exhibition dedicated to the Egyptian boy-king.
According to The Guardian, the huge number of visitors to this show "can be explained in part by the exhibition's run exceeding five months and special extended late-night openings to meet demand."
However, French cultural commentators believe the record-breaking turnout is a result of the longstanding fascination with the Egyptian pharaoh's tomb "as well as the notion of life after death."
Over 130,000 tickets to the exhibition were sold even before it had opened its doors to the public in March. The expo's next stop will be London as it will launch at the city's Saatchi Gallery on Nov. 2 till May 3.
The Paris exhibition features 150 objects, the largest number of Tutankhamun treasures ever to leave Egypt.
This year marks the last time they will be seen on tour before they are returned to Egypt where they will be permanently displayed at the vast new Grand Egyptian Museum near the pyramids of Giza.
The treasures on show include "a gold inlaid miniature coffin that contained the king's liver after it was removed during the mummification process, a gilded wooden bed with carved lion feet, probably made specially for Tutankhamun's funeral, and a gilded wooden shrine showing intimate scenes of royal domestic harmony."
The show's turnout in Paris exceeded all expectations
During an interview on French radio, Thierry Vincenti, the head of the show's organizing company IMG France, spoke out about the unprecedented response to the exhibition.
"The fact that the Grand Egyptian Museum being built at Giza will host these artefacts at the end of the tour is important. There is a sense of this being the last time people would be able to see these objects on tour," he explained.
"We hoped to get 1 million people. To beat that and get this turnout is exceptional," he added.
The Tutankhamun exhibition tour, which began in Los Angeles in March 2018 and ended in January this year, marks the upcoming centenary of the discovery of the young pharaoh's tomb. The British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the 18th-dynasty monarch in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor in 1922 in what is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time. At the time of its discovery, the tomb was untouched and included about 5,000 artifacts, many of which are now on public display.