With nearly 13,000 visitors, the exhibit Excavating Egypt buried previous attendance records at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky and could help attract funding for other blockbuster exhibits.
The exhibit, which ran March 22 to June 14, drew four times as many visitors as the most recent major exhibit at the museum.
Some 500 and 700 people routinely came to the museum on Fridays, when admission was free, said the museum's director, Kathy Walsh-Piper.
The exhibit offered an intimate glimpse into life in ancient Egypt, with 221 ranging from exotic golden funeral masks to a stone rat trap. It was the most extensive display of Egyptian objects ever to come to Central Kentucky.
Officially dubbed Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries From the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the exhibit helps show the museum can draw significant crowds, Walsh-Piper said.
And that kind of reputation helps to secure funding for other shows. The museum is finalizing the details of a horse-centric show to coincide with the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, 2010.
Plus, "it helps us to show the importance of the museum as an anchor in the city," she said.
Walsh-Piper said 5,000 to 6,000 of the visitors to Excavating Egypt had come to the museum for the first time. And although UK alumni, students and UK faculty and staff were admitted free, $15,000 worth of tickets were sold.