Ancient Egypt Galleries Open At Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 29 May 2006
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photo of a gallery housing stone architectural features

The new galleries, befitting of a world-class collection of Ancient Egyptian antiquities. © Fitzwilliam Museum

The Egyptian Galleries at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum have re-opened to applause, with stunning new displays and exhibits never seen before.

The popular section of the museum hosts a world-class collection of more than 1,000 objects. A two-year, £1.5 million project of refurbishment, conservation and research has now been completed to enrich the experience of the museum’s 300,000 annual visitors.

“We are delighted that the latest stage in our ongoing programme of gallery improvements has reached a successful conclusion,” said Museum Director Duncan Robinson, “and that the Museum is now able to offer visitors an enhanced experience of one of the most popular areas of its collections.”

photo of a gallery with glass cases holding Egyptian artefacts

It's taken two years... © Fitzwilliam Museum

Daily life, religious beliefs and burial practices of this most fascinating of ancient peoples are all explored in the galleries, as is the celebrated splendour of the Pharaoh’s court. Magic and superstition, writing, carving and drawing, dress and adornment are all looked at in themed sections.

Visitors will experience the dimly-lit atmosphere of an Egyptian tomb at the heart of the displays, where coffins, mummies and funerary ritual objects are on show.

photo of a gallery of Egyptian artefacts

...cost £1.5 million... © Fitzwilliam Museum

“The refurbishment of the Egyptian galleries has afforded an invaluable opportunity not only to re-display the collections in a contemporary and dynamic way, and to research and conserve numerous objects,” said Dr Lucilla Burn, Keeper of Antiquites, “but also to provide for visitors of all ages a more coherent and enjoyable experience, rich with information about the exhibits and the culture they represent.”

In depth research was enabled by the temporary closure of the galleries. A major focus was the coffins, which have undergone structural analysis. Human and animal mummies were CT-scanned at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, to shed light on their contents and condition. The intriguing results are to be announced later in 2006.

photo of a glass case with an Egyptian coffin in it

...and it's been worth it! © Fitzwilliam Museum

A special programme of themed events will be held over the opening week (until June 2 2006) including talks, tours and workshops. The mummy-wrapping sessions aren’t just for children, either!

Funding for the project came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund and other donors.

“The successful outcome of the project is a fitting testament to the commitment and enthusiasm of staff and volunteers, funders, supporters and collaborators,” added Dr Burn, “all of whose contributions are acknowledged with gratitude.”

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