Thursday, February 17, 2011

Exhibition: Secret Egypt at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

Culture 24

Coventry, UK

Since then a heady concoction of entertaining Hollywood films, novels and occasional crack-pot theories have taken the world of mummies, pyramids, pharaohs - and even aliens - and fashioned them into a melting pot of Egyptomania.

Now the Herbert Museum in Coventry is exploring these myths and secrets of Ancient Egypt via a blockbuster exhibition.

With artefacts from the Ashmolean Museum, Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, the British Museum, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, the Manchester Museum, the Foyle Foundation and The Henry Moore Foundation, Secret Egypt showcases over 200 Ancient Egyptian effects borrowed from the store rooms of the UK’s top Egyptology collections.

Birmingham Post (Alison Jones)

Were the pyramids the work of aliens? Are the tombs of the Pharaohs cursed? And why would Raiders of the Lost Ark get a thumbs up from an Egyptologist when it comes to accuracy? A new exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry sets out to unravel some of these millennia old myths and mysteries, and also to expose visitors to pieces that have been packed away in storage, away from the public eye, for decades.

Secret Egypt has been curated by Chris Kirby, an Egyptologist and Head of Collections at the Herbert, together with his co-curator, and Keeper of Collections, Ali Wells.

Their aim was to create a showcase that stood out from other exhibitions, from the conventional displays of art or religious and historical objects.

“We wanted to take a subject that is generally well known but just approach it in a provocative and exciting way,” says Chris.

He was inspired by how much resonance the period still has today, that it continues to be a source of ideas for everything from blockbuster films, like Raiders, Stargate or The Mummy, to adverts for comparison websites.

“It has a got a lot of power in our society, it is something that people relate to. But there are misconceptions and misunderstandings about Ancient Egypt. In the exhibition we look at some of these enduring myths and at the evidence behind them, then we ask the visitor to reassess that evidence.”

The exhibition's dedicated website is at

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