Representatives from the Israel Antiquities Authority this week are packing up the artifacts and manuscripts that were featured in "The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World," officially closing the books on the fourth-most popular exhibit ever to land at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.
How many people came: The exhibit drew 262,171 visitors during its six-month run, which ended Sunday. That was slightly fewer than museum officials had hoped, but in terms of total attendance "Scrolls" ranked only behind "Body Worlds" (742,183), "Titanic" (309,661) and "Pompeii" (297,883).
"This was not perceived as an exhibit for young children," said Mike Day, senior vice president of museum enterprises. Consequently, the exhibit attracted fewer families with younger children.
Still a record-setter: On the flip side, "Scrolls" was an extremely hot ticket for groups. The museum sold more than 32,240 group tickets, smashing the previous record of 12,714 for "Pompeii," which ran from June 27, 2007, to Jan. 6, 2008. Group tickets accounted for 12 percent of total attendance for "Scrolls" and did not include tickets sold to schools.
Beyond the numbers: It took seven years for the Science Museum to get the "Scrolls" and its successful run could pave the way for more exhibits featuring some of the world's most sacred treasures, Day said.
"It moves us onto the list of museums worldwide to host these types of exhibitions. Now the Egyptians are trusting."
Up next: The museum's next major exhibit is the 16,000-square-foot "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs." Spacewise, it will be the largest in the history of the museum. Opening Feb. 18, the exhibit will feature more than 100 items from the celebrated pharaoh and from other rulers and sites throughout 2,000 years of Egyptian history.