Art Market

A King Tut exhibition in Paris has broken attendance records for a French art show.

Christy Kuesel
Sep 4, 2019 4:02PM, via AFP

Coffinette of Tutankhamen dedicated to Imseti and Isis is displayed during the “Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibition held at the Grande Halle of La Villette. Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images.

A 1967 show in Paris about King Tutankhamen was billed as “the exhibition of the century,” but 52 years later the French are still just as obsessed with the boy pharaoh. An exhibition at the La Villette hall in northeast Paris has broken the attendance record for a French art exhibition set by the 1967 blockbuster. “Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” includes 150 objects from King Tut’s tomb, including more than 50 that are being shown outside of Egypt for the first time. Some 1.3 million tickets to the exhibition had been sold as of Tuesday, according to the AFP.

The exhibition includes a statue of Amon, king of the gods, protecting Tutankhamen, which is on loan from the Louvre, and a statue that guarded the pharaoh’s burial chamber. The show opened on March 23rd, and was extended by one week, to September 22nd, to cope with crowds. But with over two weeks left, the new show has already surpassed France’s previous attendance record for an art exhibition of 1.2 million tickets sold, set by the 1967 King Tut show at the Petit Palais.

The current exhibition heralds the upcoming centennial of British archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, which launched a worldwide King Tut craze. He was not a particularly notable king in life, reigning from around 1341 to 1323 B.C.E. and dying young, but the discovery of thousands of treasures in his tomb advanced archaeologists’ understanding of Egyptian culture.

The artifacts on display will eventually become part of the permanent collection of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is still under construction. It is currently scheduled to open in 2020, and will feature more than 5,000 objects retrieved from Tutankhamun’s tomb, including his three coffins and his funeral mask. One of these coffins is currently undergoing restoration in Cairo.

After finishing its run in Paris, the exhibition will travel to the Saatchi Gallery in London, and will be on view from November 2nd to May 3rd.

Christy Kuesel