Paris Tutankhamun show sets new record with 1.42 million visitors

Organizers had to extend opening hours to 9:00 p.m. at the giant la Villette venue in the north of the French capital to try to cope with the numbers. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 September 2019

Paris Tutankhamun show sets new record with 1.42 million visitors

  • The Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities said this was the largest number of Tutankhamun artefacts ever to have left Cairo
  • The show will visit other as yet undisclosed cities before the artefacts are returned to Egypt in 2024

PARIS: A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organizers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the “exhibition of the century” in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see “Tutankhamun and His Times” at the Petit Palais.

“Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” — which has been described as a “once in a generation” show — will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked “Tutmania,” with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

More than 150 treasures from the monarch’s tomb — including 60 which have never left Egypt before — have been assembled for the show.

The Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities said this was the largest number of Tutankhamun artefacts ever to have left Cairo.

Almost all of the 3,400 exhibits come from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and are never likely to leave the country again.

Its unparalleled collection is being transferred to the enormous new Grand Egyptian Museum near the pyramids at Giza, which is due to open next year.

Mostafa Waziry, the Egyptian ministry’s secretary general, said the show — which also visits Sydney next year — will help pay for the new Giza museum.

The country’s Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Enany, said he was “sure that the immense interest in the exhibition will encourage millions of visitors... to visit Egypt’s museums and remarkable sites.”

And the Louvre, which loaned the greatest piece in its Egyptian collection, the statue of Amon — the king of the gods — protecting Tutankhamun, also hailed the show’s runaway success.

“It confirms, if confirmation were needed, how passionate the French people are about Egyptian antiquity,” it said.
Some 50,000 children visited the show on school trips alone, the organizers said.

The show will visit other as yet undisclosed cities before the artefacts are returned to Egypt in 2024. “Please see them,” Waziry declared. “Visit them before they return to Egypt for ever.”

The giant touring spectacle is also designed to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the boy pharaoh’s tomb by the British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.

Organizers had to extend opening hours to 9:00 p.m. at the giant la Villette venue in the north of the French capital to try to cope with the numbers.

The London show at the Saatchi Gallery will open on November 2 and run until May 2020.


Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

Updated 34 min 59 sec ago

Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

  • The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s tourists
  • Apsara authority plans to end the elephant rides by 2020
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early next year, an official said Friday, a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as cruel.
The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists — which topped six million in 2018 — and many opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the start of 2020,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he told AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”
So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.
Cambodia has long come under fire from animal rights groups for ubiquitous elephant rides on offer for tourists, also seen in neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
The elephants are broken in during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severely hot weather.
The animal had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.