Derby Museums is re-thinking its small but much-loved Egyptian collection. In June-November 2024 a major exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery will showcase the collection along with loans from other institutions including Manchester Museum and the British Museum. It will present a wide range of voices and histories, aiming to encourage critical thinking and enrich visitors’ perspectives. At the heart of the exhibition will be new research telling previously untold stories, exploring the history of the collection and Derbyshire’s links with Egypt, and looking through the lenses of industrial, military and colonial activity, tourism, scientific research and collectors. It will critically examine traditional stories told by museums about ancient Egyptian collections and open up discussions around colonial archaeology and the extent to which museums were rooted in colonial exploitation, and cultural appropriation. The collection includes two mummies which have been in Derby since at least 1859, perhaps decades earlier. We will bring the ethics of the display of human remains to the fore, exploring with visitors the ideas of choice, dignity, and interpretation, to understand their thoughts and discuss the absence of the voices of the mummified people in our care.

This talk invites the audience to learn about Derby Museums’ collections and the innovative ways they are being studied and interpreted and offers listeners the opportunity to discuss the value of rethinking Egyptian collections in European Museums.

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Rachel Atherton

Co-production Curator, Derby Museums

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Dr Lenore Thompson

Archaeological Researcher and Impact Officer, University of Derby

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