Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Visitors flock to Leeds City Museum for a trip to ancient Egypt

Caption: The ancient Egypt exhibition featuring objects such as this statue of Pharaoh Ramses II is proving a big hit at Leeds City Museum

The new exhibition devoted to ancient Egypt at Leeds City Museum enjoyed a stunning first week with almost 20,000 people flocking to see it.

The touring exhibition entitled ‘Pharaoh: King of Egypt’ showcasing over 130 objects from the British Museum collection attracted almost four thousands visitors in its opening weekend before rising to 17,000 by the end of the first week.

Those figures are the highest first-week numbers of any exhibition held at the museum off Millennium Square in its history and second-only to the official opening of the visitor attraction off Millennium Square itself in September 2008.

As a measure of the phenomenal interest in the new exhibition, which is free to enter and is the first of its kind to be on display in the central Leeds Arena, the visitors numbers were up by 63 per cent compared to the corresponding half-term week last year.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“We knew people were going to love the ancient Egypt exhibition, but we weren’t expecting it to be as popular as that! Seeing the exhibition and the museum absolutely swamped with people keen to get in was fantastic and has been a great reward for all the hard work by the team at Leeds City Museum and our colleagues at the British Museum who were responsible for bringing it here.

“From the feedback we have been receiving it is really capturing the imagination of everyone who visits so for those who have not seen it yet make sure you do as it really is a wonderful exhibition that you don’t want to miss.”

Developed by the British Museum in partnership with the Great North Museum, the exhibition explores the lives of the pharaohs and their role as head of state, chief priest and army commanders through objects and artefacts spanning over 3,000 years of history including stunning palace decorations, sculpture, jewellery and papyri.

Among the objects on display are a wonderfully-preserved standing wooden tomb guardian, a 3,000-year-old wooden bed and a small parchment which is the oldest item dating back five thousand years.

The exhibition is free to enter and features audio-visual displays, interactives and family trails. It also complements the famous ‘Leeds Mummy’ Nesyamun, who is on permanent display in the ‘Ancient Worlds’ section of the museum.

Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor said:

“These astonishing visitor numbers show that Ancient Egypt holds an enduring fascination. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such an extraordinary Egyptian collection in Leeds City Museum.”

Pharaoh: King of Egypt runs at Leeds City Museum until Sunday 17 June 2012. For the latest information visit or to find out more about Leeds City Museum, visit the website at

Notes to editors:

• Pharaoh: King of Egypt is supported through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation.

• The tour is organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK scheme. Partnership UK is the strategic framework for the British Museum’s programme of engagement with audiences throughout the country.

• The British Museum recently worked with Leeds Museums at Lotherton Hall with the exhibition ‘Warriors of the Plains’ in summer 2011.

• As well as Leeds City Museum, the exhibition is also visiting: Great North Museum: Hancock, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

• The Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian objects outside Egypt, which illustrate every aspect of the cultures of the Nile Valley, from the Neolithic period (about 10,000 BC) until the twelfth century AD.

For further information on the British Museum please contact: or call 020 7323 8394.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472