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Monday, 12 March 2012

TUTANKHAMEN The Biggest Box-Office Attraction Of All Time!


“King Tut is bigger than Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles and Michael Jackson”

In 1972 the British Museum exhibited objects from Tutankhamen’s tomb for the first time. Over 1.7 million people queued around the block for months setting new attendance records and igniting an insatiable interest in Tutankhamen that keeps growing, showing no sign of abating 38 years later.

In 1976 -1979 a small exhibition “Treasures of Tutankhamen” featuring 130 objects from the boy-king’s tomb toured 7 cities in the U.S. attracting 8 million visitors. At the time the biggest museum tour in history. The Chicago Museum alone sold 1.3 million tickets.

Another exhibition in 2005 “Golden Age of the Pharaohs” with 50 Tutankhamen objects toured for 27 months. In Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and Chicago “Golden Age” smashed all records. In the first 8 months 3.5 million people filed through their turnstiles.

A computer-generated likeness of Tutankhamen based on the structural features of his mummy.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art was forced to extend its hours when they pre-sold 250,000 tickets and then another 500,000 tickets in the first 30 days. “This is the greatest comeback tour in history,” said Terry Garcia, Executive Vice-President of the National Geographic Society, a co-sponsor of the exhibit. Fort Lauderdale hosted 707,534 visitors in 4 months. In Chicago over 100,000 tickets at $25 pre-sold months before opening, including 525 groups coming in from 32 U.S. States.

A wooden mannequin used for Tutankhamen's pendants and earrings.

The Franklin Museum in Philadelphia pre-sold 1.3 million tickets [6 months prior to opening they had sold 270,000, with 50% booking from outside the State] setting a new record for the “most attended travelling exhibition ever in the U.S.” In anticipation the Dallas Museum increased ticket prices to $32.50 and still sold 600,000 tickets, making it the most visited exhibit in the Museum’s 100-year history.

A gold outer coffin, one of three inter-fitting coffins in which the mummy was interned. 
The mask and coffins make a solid gold mass of over 100 kilos.

Late 2007 “The Golden Age” Exhibition opened in London at the O2 Dome and sold out immediately selling over 2 million at $29 each. “Golden Age” moved to Basel in Switzerland in 2008 and drew 620,000 visitors or 4,500 everyday for 7 months.

Winifred Brunton's fanciful illustrations of a young Tutankhamen and his wife Ankhesenamen

4 years later, Tutankhamen has been through Europe and the U.S. selling out everywhere the boy-king appeared. Sales exceeded 14 million tickets sold. The most successful exhibition in history! 

When archeologist Howard Carter unwrapped Tutankhamen's mummy, it was found with garlands of flowers around the boy-king's neck and his death mask.

 The garlands included Opium poppies, Nightshade berries and a wreath of blue Cornflowers, interwoven with scented blooms and olive leaves, carefully arranged to show their green front and silver backs alternately.

The "Golden Age" exhibition then opened in Melbourne, Australia in 2011 with pre-sales of 150,000 and over 850,000 tickets sold in 34 weeks, smashing records and making it the most visited exhibition in Australia. Museum Victoria said: “Nothing is going to be as big as King Tut ever again. That’s a long time.”

Today, tourism remains Egypt’s major earner accounting for $13 billion of the country’s GNP. 15 million tourists saw the ancient sights in 2010, up 15% from 2009.

Tutankhamen's outer coffin still sits in his Valley of the Kings tomb, in its sarcophagus, as it has for over 3,200 years.

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