Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum has just opened a new chapter in the distant past, unveiling its new galleries dedicated to Ancient Egypt and Nubia. This £5 million ($7.7 million) refurbishment has allowed the re-housing of 40,000 artifacts collected over the last 300 years, including coffins and mummies that haven't been displayed since the Second World War.
Designed by Rick Mather Architects, the six new galleries lead visitors from Egypt's origins in the Paleolithic period to the annexation of the country by the Roman Empire after the suicide of Cleopatra in 30 BC. Liam McNamara, lead curator for the redevelopment of the new galleries, told ARTINFO UK: "We hope that by presenting the galleries in a chronological sequence we will enable our visitors to understand the great length of time that the Egyptian civilization covers — three millennia — but also the aspects of continuity and change that occurred during those 3,000 years."
On Saturday 26 November 2011, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford opened six new galleries for the collections of Ancient Egypt and Nubia (present day Sudan). Building on the success of the Museum’s extension, which opened in 2009, this second phase of major redevelopment redisplays the world-renowned Egyptian collections to exhibit objects that have been in storage for decades, more than doubling the number of mummies and coffins on display. The galleries take visitors on a chronological journey covering more than 5000 years of human occupation of the Nile Valley.
The £5 million project has received lead support from Lord Sainsbury’s Linbury Trust, along with the Selz Foundation and other trusts, foundations and individuals. Rick Mather Architects have led the redesign and redisplay of the pre-existing Egypt galleries and the extension into the restored Ruskin Gallery, previously occupied by the Museum Shop. The contractor Beard has completed the construction work in the historic building. New openings link the rooms, presenting the collections under the broad themes of Egypt at its Origins; Dynastic Egypt and Nubia; Life after Death in Ancient Egypt; The Amarna ‘Revolution’; Egypt in the Age of Empires; and Egypt meets Greece and Rome.
The Ashmolean is home to some of the finest Egyptian and Nubian collections in the country, with Predynastic and Protodynastic material which ranks amongst the most significant in the world.
And at BBC News there is a rather nice slideshow.