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About the exhibition

For many people, the words “ancient Egypt” immediately suggest images of mummies, pyramids and strange animal-headed gods — ideas of death and mystery. But there are other stories to tell about the Egyptians and their burials. Through this exhibition we reveal the development of ancient Egyptian coffins and also the skill of their makers. It also becomes clear that the Egyptians’ apparent obsession with death was, in fact, an obsession with life and a wish to ensure that it continued in a perfect form for all eternity.

There are objects from ancient Egypt in museums collections all over the world. Often these include wooden faces that were originally fixed to the front of coffins. They are usually beautiful examples of Egyptian art, but they have lost their association with the people for whom they were made.

By examining the construction of both complete and fragmentary coffins, and by studying the texts and decoration that adorn them, we can understand something of the practical issues and economic factors that affected the choices an individual made, as well as their burial customs and religious beliefs. We can then begin to reconnect these anonymous faces with the men and women who commissioned and bought coffins and the craftsmen who created them.