Besides ensuring tourism and providing storylines for scores of feature films, the mystique of ancient Egypt also launched a specific sort of museum show that has become de rigueur for large institutions: the blockbuster. When the traveling exhibition Treasures of Tutankhamun came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979, it broke all the museum's previous attendance records and became famous enough to merit a spoof on Saturday Night Live.
Some of these treasures will return to New York City next April when the Discovery Times Square Exposition hosts Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. The exhibit, which features 50 artifacts from Tut's tomb as well as 80 from other royal pharaohs, will undoubtedly draw major attendance. But blockbusters like these are also expensive to mount--an obvious problem in this scaled-back economy that has hit museums particularly hard.