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News | Published: Thu 25 May 2006

ImageEgyptian Galleries re-open with stunning new displays

From the splendour of the Pharaoh’s court to the pursuits of his subjects, from aspects of daily life to religious beliefs, superstition and burial practices, visitors to the Egyptian galleries will experience the history of Ancient Egypt through thematic displays on the king and his people, Egyptian religion and magic, writing, carving and drawing, dress and adornment, and other aspects of daily life. In an inner gallery, dimly lit to evoke the atmosphere of an ancient Egyptian tomb, burial practices from the Pre-dynastic period to Coptic and Islamic Egypt are explored though magnificent displays of coffins, mummies and objects associated with funerary ritual.

From 27 May to 2 June, a special programme of Egyptian events for all ages during Museums and Galleries Month 2006, starting with an Egyptian Galleries Open Day on Saturday 27 May , brings to life many aspects of the new displays through talks, trails and gallery tours, workshops, storytelling and drop-in sessions. Mummy-wrapping and cartonnage-making are just two of the planned events, offering adults and children a chance to experience these fascinating ancient processes at first hand. Many of the events are free.

In-depth research on many Ancient Egyptian objects has taken place during the gallery improvement project, a major focus being the coffins, where wood, pigment and structural analysis has been carried out. The Museum’s human and animal mummies were CT-scanned at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, in order to study their contents and condition; the intriguing results will be revealed later this year.

The Egyptian galleries are amongst the most popular in the Museum, visited regularly by schools and many of the Fitzwilliam’s 300,000 visitors each year.

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

Dr Lucilla Burn, Keeper of Antiquities, said "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, 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. The successful outcome of the project is a fitting testament to the commitment and enthusiasm of staff and volunteers, funders, supporters and collaborators, all of whose contributions are acknowledged with gratitude."

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s Egyptian collections have been conserved and re-displayed through the generosity of The Heritage Lottery Fund, The DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Getty Foundation, The Isaac Newton Trust, Renaissance, The Trust House Charitable Foundation, The Aurelius Charitable Trust and other corporate and private donors.