Debbie Challis

Debbie Challis

Audience Development Officer, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Malet Place
University College London
London WC1E 6BT

+44 (0)20 7679


Debbie Challis works at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and organises events, talks, exhibitions and other learning activities there. Events range from art classes to family afternoons, tours of the museum to film screenings. Resources available include ESOL materials for self-directed visits and various trails around the Petrie Museum.

She is currently working on the exhibition Typecast: The work of Francis Galton and Flinders Petrie, which will be on display at the Petrie Museum in 2011.


  • BA Hons English and Greek and Roman Studies, University of Birmingham.
  • MA Critical Approaches, Goldsmiths College University of London.
  • PhD Art History (Title: Collecting Classics: The reception and acquisition of classical antiquities in museums in England, 1840 – 1880), Birkbeck College University of London.


  • Audience Development Officer, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

Research interests

  • Current practice in museums relating to the display of antiquity.
  • The reception of the classical world and archaeology in visual culture during the 19thC.
  • The interaction between racial theory and the ancient Greek ideal in the 19thC.
  • The impact of racial science on ideas about the past.
  • History of museums and the display of antiquity
  • Contentious subjects or areas of conflict in museums, particularly with regard to antiquity


  • 2014: 'What's in a Face? Mummy Portrait Panels and Identity in Museum Display' in William Carruthers (ed.) Histories of Egyptology: Interdisciplinary Measures (London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis).
  • 2013: The Archaeology of Race. The Eugenic Ideas of Francis Galton and Flinders Petrie (London: Bloomsbury Academic)
  • 2013: 'Creating Typecasts: exhibiting eugenic ideas from the past today', Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 28 / 1: 15-33.
  • 2012: 'Creating Voices: Ancient to Modern at the Petrie Museum', Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1
  • 2012: 'Fashioning Achaeology into Art: Greek Sculpture, Dress Reform and Health in the 1880s', Journal of Literature and Science, Volume 5 No. 1.
  • 2011: 'The Race for a Healthy Body', in Barbara Gough and Michael Simpson (eds.), Thinking the Olympics
  • 2011: 'Viewpoints: SF Egypt at the Petrie Museum', Foundation, 110, Winter 2011.
  • 2010:‘The Ablest Race: Ancient Greek Art and Victorian Racial Theory’, in Mark Bradley (eds.) Classics and Imperialism (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • 2009: ‘Attic and Diplomatic: Charles Newton and the emergence of criticism on ancient art’, Carol Adlam (ed.), Art Criticism 1700 – 1900: Emergence, Development, Interchange in Eastern and Western Europe (Peter Lang: 2009).
  • 2008: From the Harpy Tomb to the Wonders of Ephesus. British Archaeologists in the Ottoman Empire 1840-1880 (Duckworth, 2008). (Available here).
  • 2008: ‘Modern to Ancient: Greece at the Great Exhibition and the Crystal Palace’, Peter H. Hoffenberg and Jeffrey Auerbach (ed.), Great Britain, the British Empire and the World at the Great Exhibition (Ashgate: 2008).
  • 2008: Exhibiting Democracy: Material Culture from Ancient Athens and the Democratic Ideal. Open University: Reception of the texts and images of antiquity:

  •  2005: ‘The Parthenon Sculptures: Emblems of British National Identity’, British Art Journal VII. 1 (Spring 2006).