Curator’s Diary, Monday 28th March 2011: Spring is here!

After a long, dark winter it seems that Spring is finally on its way, even in Manchester, and we have just two more teaching weeks until the Easter break for students.

Dwarf carrrying a calf, 13th Dynasty, Ramesseum

This semester I have been teaching my course, Egypt in the Late Bronze Age: Individual Experience in a Cosmopolitan State, a level 3 course for final year students. The course has been a lot of fun to plan and teach, and the students have been excellent – as part of the course they have given top class presentations on objects on display in the Museum.

Over the last few weeks we have begin work on two temporary exhibitions relating to Egypt. One is called Unearthed, looking at early archaeology in Egypt and aimed at school children, and one is Grave Secrets, in conjunction with the KNH-Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, presenting the work of Grafton Elliot Smith on the human remains from the Survey of Nubia carried out in the 1960s. Both of these exhibitions will open in the autumn.

This weekend I was in Durham attending the last day of the Current Research in Egyptology 12 conference, as an invited keynote speaker. It was a great pleasure to return to Durham (where I did my PhD), the weather was perfect, and the conference was very well organised by Durham graduate students. I had been asked to speak on jobs in Egyptology beyond academia, which seemed a challenge at first, but when I began to think about it was actually a rich seam, as, due to the popularity of ancient Egypt, there are many and varied opportunities if you are prepared to be creative and flexible in your approach. Archaeopress/British Archaeological Reports had a book stand at the conference, so I was able to pick up my three free copies of Egypt in its African Context: Proceedings of the Conference held at the Manchester Museum 3-4 October 2009 (£30, available from

At the Museum we are now beginning to think again about the Ancient Words gallery redevelopment, after a few months break. The Egypt and Archaeology galleries will close in June, and we will have 18 months to decant the objects, deconstruct the current exhibitions, and build something new. This will be a busy time! Included in the new galleries will be the 13th Dynasty Ramesseum tomb group of magical objects, most of which are here at Manchester. The image above shows an ivory dwarf carrying a calf figurine which belongs to this group and is now in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, donated by the Egypt Exploration Society, and just recently re-located (by us, in any case!). A related but separate project that we are involved in is the British Museum’s development of an online catalogue of all the material from this tomb – the papyrus archive is in the British Museum – lead by Richard Parkinson. Richard was in Manchester recently to give a talks at the University and in Bolton, on readings of Sinuhe and the development of the Nebamun gallery at the British Museum. It was great to see him and catch up on news, and the talks were excellent.


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One response to “Curator’s Diary, Monday 28th March 2011: Spring is here!

  1. In the spirit of the Picture a Museum Day (as a kind of follow up, if you like) I thought I’d show you an image from Manchester Museum’s Egypt collection. This slightly sinister image evokes imagery of a horror film perhaps… or less fancifully, allows you to look inside a mummy in a way museum visitors usually can’t.

    At least, this is how it appears at first glance…
    But in actual fact, the mummy has been covered by the sheet you see in the picture, in a kind of symbolic commentary on the contentious museum issue of human remains and how to display them. You get a partial glimpse, but the body remains covered. Therein lies the paradox.
    As part of a Manchester University AGMS project, myself and four other digital curating students would like to know the answer to these simple questions:

    Does this image interest you?
    Do you like it?
    Which images from the Egypt photostream interest you the most?
    Which ones would you blog about?

    Come and tell us what you think!

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