The secrets of ancient Egypt are currently being revealed at National Museums Scotland.
The exhibition is part of the event to mark the completion of the transformation of the National Museum of Scotland’s iconic Victorian building in Edinburgh and a diverse and world-class programme of exhibitions means a fascinating world of discovery is ready.
The 2019 programme features the unveiling of three new permanent galleries at the National Museum plus, later in the year, major exhibitions taking in 500 years of robotics, diversity in fashion, the fascinating world of parasites and the story of how highland traditions came to be adapted and established as enduring international symbols of Scottish identity as a whole.
The Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery presents the remarkable culture and achievements of the ancient Egyptians, highlighting individual stories to give a sense of their values and personal lives. The displays will showcase the depth and breadth of National Museums’ Ancient Egypt material with 2019 being the 200th anniversary (May 1819) of the first Egyptian objects becoming part of the collection.
Highlights will include the Qurna burial, the only intact royal burial group outside of Egypt, a gold ring said to have belonged to Queen Nefertiti and a unique double coffin of two half-brothers, Petamun and Penhorpabik.
National Museums Scotland’s Ancient Egyptian collection comprises around 6,000 items, including many unique and internationally significant objects, such as royal statuary, reliefs, mummified bodies, coffins, papyri, furniture, jewellery and textiles.
Ancient Egypt was one of the earliest and longest-lived civilisations, spanning almost 4000 years of history. The River Nile and the surrounding desert shaped ancient Egyptian culture and how they saw the world. Egypt’s success derived from its natural resources, such as fertile agriculture from the annual flood, stone for building monuments, and precious gold. The Egyptian empire grew to stretch from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north, but over time its power waned and for almost a third of its history it was ruled by some its various former territories. Even in ancient times though, Egypt’s awe-inspiring monuments, including pyramids and temples, drew tourists from throughout the ancient Mediterranean.
The Egyptian collection was begun in 1819, and many of the objects derive from archaeological excavations by A.H. Rhind (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland), the Egypt Exploration Society, British School of Archaeology in Egypt, and Oxford and Liverpool Universities. The Museum is also believed to have the only intact ancient Egyptian royal burial group outside of Egypt.
The new permanent galleries opened on 8 February at the National Museum of Scotland with Ancient Egypt Rediscovered, as well as Exploring East Asia and the Art of Ceramics.
This marked the completion, on time and on budget, of the 15-year, £80 million transformation of the Museum, restoring the much-loved Victorian building, revealing more of its treasures and almost trebling visitor numbers.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, said: ‘Thanks to the work over the last fifteen years to transform the National Museum of Scotland, it is now the most popular visitor attraction in the UK outwith London, with over 2.3 million visitors in the last calendar year.’