It was comedian Steve Martin who first mined laughs at the expense of the museum antiquity blockbuster 45 years ago.
Then a Saturday Night Live regular, Martin dressed as King Tutankhamun to send up a travelling exhibition of pharaonic treasures making a six-city, 2½-year tour across the United States.
As Americans queued for hours for a look-see, Martin mocked the sale of trinkets, toys, posters, and T-shirts while thanking the boy king for giving his life for tourism.
The roadshow that Martin skewered, Treasures of Tutankhamun, is widely regarded as the first of the modern-day blockbuster – those packaged exhibitions with mass appeal and a souvenir shop at the exit.
It’s the granddaddy of three international treasure shows opening across Australian east coast capital cities from November 18.
The Australian Museum kicks off the year of ancient Egyptian mania with Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs, endorsed by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. At the launch on Friday, the Australian Museum announced that it had pre-sold 100,000 tickets for its new blockbuster, an unprecedented public response.
The Egyptian head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr Mostafa Waziry has boldly predicted a million visitors by the show’s end, which would be an attendance record for the museum.
A month later, the National Museum of Australia opens Discovering Ancient Egypt, an exhibition of more than 220 objects from the Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in the Netherlands – one of the finest collections of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt.
And come June, the British Museum is making its most ambitious international loan of ancient Egyptian artefacts