8. The Temple of Dendur Was Not Fully Opened Until 1994

A front facing view of the Temple of Dendur with two Egyptian statues in the foreground.

Until 1994, though the exhibit was officially open, museumgoers could only look at Dendur from afar. Nobody was allowed to walk through its hallways until the Met opened it up fully in 1994. Originally, the architectural plan for the exhibit was to treat it sculpturally, as an object to view and admire on a pedestal like a statue, explained Dr. Dorothea Arnold, curator chief of the museum’s department of Egyptian art.

Even when soirees were held, private partygoers couldn’t come closer than 30 feet from the temple entrance. The reason was due to concerns about conserving the delicate sandstone. Eventually, a compromise was made allowing visitors to enter in smaller groups under the watchful eyes of museum guards. When the exhibit turned fifty in 2017, conservators worked to remove grease and grime from the blocks that had accumulated from decades of visitors touching the walls.