This week I attended my first meeting of CIPEG (The International Committee on Egyptology, part of ICOM – The International Council of Museums), an annual event now in its 29thyear. The conference was held in the impressive surroundings of the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels, and provided an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss matters of common interest with other curators working with Egyptology collections. I presented a paper on the new Manchester Museum galleries, discussing in particular how we highlight both current and past research on the collection, and an update on the ACCES network.
Papers covered a range of topics, from acquisitions histories to museum-led fieldwork projects. In addition to updates on current and planned redevelopments and exhibitions, it was interesting (and somewhat reassuring) to hear of the challenges being faced across Europe. Unfortunately, a common theme was the pressure felt by cuts in government funding. The case of local authorities responsible for museum collections selling objects was raised, and the dangerous precedent this could set. Despite the generally gloomy picture, it was good to hear of the creativity and inventiveness of some museums in these financially-straitened times. The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest was one such example, using competitions for schools to design museum exhibitions on an Egyptian theme. This not only interested young people, it equipped them with a broad range of learning outcomes and skills applicable to a variety of jobs. New uses of digital technology, which we will make extensive use of in the Ancient Worlds galleries, are being considered in a number of other museums. Each institution has its own unique circumstances, so it will be interesting to compare digital developments and how they have been adapted to individual museums in the future.
CIPEG will meet again at the next International Congress of Egyptologists, in Alexandria in September 2013.