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Monday, November 12, 2018

Egypt Exploration Society | Blog | From Barlow to Trumble and beyond: the EES and Bolton’s Egypt

From Barlow to Trumble and beyond: the EES and Bolton's Egypt

In 2016 Bolton Museum embarked on its biggest change since it opened in 1947. Central to this change was the creation of a brand new Ancient Egypt gallery named 'Bolton's Egypt'.

It's all in hand: Bolton's Egypt and the EES badges

The beginnings of the collection were formed in 1884 through the efforts of Miss Annie E. F. Barlow, the youngest daughter of the owner of the textile company Barlow and Jones Ltd. Annie became Honorary Local Secretary for the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1883, very soon after its creation. For almost 60 years, Annie tirelessly raised funds and encouraged the wealthy of the north-west to subscribe to the EEF's work. So good was Annie that in some years up to 10% of the EEF annual UK income came via her efforts. The EEF looked favourably on Annie and her associated institution the Chadwick Museum, Bolton Museum's Victorian forerunner. Over the past 130 years, the collection has grown to almost 12,000 objects. A large proportion of these are ancient textiles, thanks to the personal interests of father and son curatorial team William and Thomas Midgley, and owing to Annie's family background.

Embarking on Life's Journey: the main 'Land and People' gallery with its colourful wall illustrations and huge glass arch cases

In recent years however, the old galleries had become tired and needed investment, which took the form of a grant of £3.8million from Bolton Council. Although a lot of this money went to structural work, a proportion was allotted to transforming the displays. Bolton's Egypt now occupies 5 new galleries, taking the number of displayed objects from around 500 to over 2000. The first two galleries tell the story of Egyptomania in Bolton, the foundation of the Chadwick Museum, and the development of the Egyptology collection. Annie and the EES are a fundamental part of this story and feature prominently as part of it. The main gallery is a bright, colourful explosion of Ancient Egyptian life where visitors are immersed in the objects. It's a journey through Egypt by way of 5 immense glass arches which display over 1500 objects which appear to float above your head. This leads to an atmospheric gallery which sets the tone for the rest of the displays. This gallery explores preparation for the afterlife and contains objects related to death and burial. Visitors are then led through a short corridor into the final space, an exact 3D facsimile of the burial chamber of Thutmose III.

Strike a Pose: giving you pure Annie Barlow realness

Bolton's Egyptology curators have always worked closely with the EES and the wider Egyptology community, ensuring the well-provenanced collections are properly documented and cared for, and made an accessible resource for researchers. As the current Egyptology Collections Access Officer and curator of the new galleries I was delighted to be made EES Local Ambassador for Bolton soon after Bolton's Egypt opened. Now the easy bit of curating the displays is over, it is my job to ensure the collection is looked after for future generations and that knowledge is disseminated to a wider public. So over the past 2 years I have spoken to many groups across the country about the Bolton's Egypt project, which has given me a good network base to follow in Annie's footsteps and spread the word about the continuing important work of the EES.

Bolton's Egypt on Tour: from Southampton to Edinburgh, I've taken Bolton's Egypt to hundreds of members of Egyptology societies since 2016

Bolton's Egypt opened its doors to the public in September 2018 with a whopping 10,000 visitors on its first day. Opened by our good friends Prof Joann Fletcher and Dr Margaret Mountford, it was a show of northern solidarity with the Society to which we owe so, so much.

Old Friends: Prof Joann Fletcher and Dr Margaret Mountford in discussion about Bolton's much-loved male mummy in the facsimile tomb

Ian Trumble is Curator of Bolton's Egypt, Bolton Library and Museum Services and EES Local Ambassador for Bolton

--   Sent from my Linux system.

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