5-7pm (UK) / 7-9pm (Egypt) | This lecture will be recorded, register to be sent a video link

This Discussion Panel within our wider theme of Visualising Egypt explores the diversity and complexity of Egyptian art and how it has inspired contemporary artists.

From the 1980s, contemporary artists were increasingly invited by museums to provide their own unique interventions in gallery spaces. Juxtaposing historic archaeological collections with contemporary art is a practice that has continued with regularity ever since and remains today a popular addition to academic programmes and museological projects. Examples of artist interventions include Time Machine at the British Museum in 1994, Re-imaging Egypt at Saffron Waldon Museum in 2013, and the work of Sara Sallam at the Museo Egizio in 2022 and Museum of Art and History in Brussels 2023. Might these exhibitions offer more than a rethink of display and presentation? Can they alter interpretative approaches and perceptions of ancient Egypt? Or are they merely appropriations of ‘non-Western’, ‘non-European’ artefacts in pursuit of artistic or museological experiment, new audiences, and relevance? To what extent do they provide dialogues between the past and present?  What do these interventions do?

These are some of the questions currently being explored by Alice Stevenson as part of a British Academy-funded project Exhibition Experiments around Egyptology: The role of contemporary artJoin her and our panel of curators, scholars, and artists who will present and discuss artistic interventions in displays of ancient Egypt.



Alice Stevenson (Chair) is an Associate Professor at UCL Institute of Archaeology. She was formerly the Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, and lead researcher on the AHRC-funded projects Artefacts of Excavation, Egypt's Dispersed Heritage, and Mobilising Collections for Institutional Change: Egypt at the Horniman Museum. She is author of Scattered Finds: Archaeology, Egyptology and Museums (UCL Press 2019), The Oxford Handbook of Museum Archaeology (OUP 2022), and Egyptian Archaeology and the Twenty-first-century Museum (CUP 2022). She is currently a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow, undertaking research on contemporary art interventions in museums with collections from ancient Egypt. 

Sara Sallam is an Egyptian multidisciplinary artist based in the Netherlands. Her research-based practice includes photography, film, writing, voice narration, archival interventions, and self-publishing handmade books. Through her work, she reflects on growing up in Egypt, criticising the colonial attitudes embedded in archaeology, museum practices, and photographic archives that prevent Egyptians from relating to their past and ancestors. She focuses on the retelling of history by imagining counter-narratives and exploring fiction and temporal juxtapositions as ways to reclaim and decolonise her ancient Egyptian heritage. Sallam has shown her work in numerous exhibitions internationally, most recently at the Museo Egizio in Turin, the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, and the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. She is represented by Tintera Gallery and currently teaches at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.

Gemma Tully is a Community Archaeologist, Museum and Heritage Professional who works in Europe, Egypt and Sudan. She is currently co-ordinating the Tutankhamun the Boy: Growing-up in Ancient Egypt Project at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology, University College London.

James Putnam is an independent curator and writer. He studied Art History at London University and went on to join the Egyptian Antiquities and then the Education Departments of the British Museum having curated contemporary project for and independently of the Museum. In 1994 he curated at the BM the critically acclaimed exhibition Time Machine which juxtaposed contemporary art with historical artefacts. He founded the BM’s Contemporary Arts and Cultures Programme in 19999. He has published both on ancient and contemporary art, including Art and Artifact – the Museum as Medium (Thames and Hudson 2001), which offers an extensive survey of the relationship between the artist and museum. He has held positions as Visiting Scholar in Museum Studies at New York University (2003-04), Associate Curator at the Bowes Museum (2004-06), and Senior Lecturer in Criticism, Communication & Curation at the University of the Arts (2004-11). Most recently he has been a Senior Research Fellow, Exhibitions at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts.  

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