UCL News


UCL's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology wins top museum award

6 March 2003

UCL's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has won a top national award for its touring exhibition 'Ancient Egypt: Digging for Dreams'.

A Roman era mummy portrait, part of the vast collection at the Petrie Museum The controversial show received the prize for presenting a different view of ancient Egypt.

The exhibition featured treasures from the Petrie Museum and opened at the Croyden Clocktower, travelling to the Burrell Collection, Glasgow. Attracting more than 94,000 visitors, the show took a new approach to the subject of ancient Egypt, raising ethical issues concerning race, politics, archaeology and the role of museums.

Curated by Dr Dominic Montserrat (Institute of Archaeology), the exhibition was conceived as a means of developing new audiences and encouraging public debate through a radical approach. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, many alternative viewpoints and interactive sections were presented.

The exhibition challenged Western stereotypes and common assumptions about ancient Egypt, many originating from popular fiction. Visitors were given torches to explore a 'tomb' containing ancient and replica artefacts.

It also discussed the achievements of the archaeologist Flinders Petrie, set in the context of British cultural attitudes of the time. In addition, the show dealt with race and colour, the display of human remains, and how ancient Egypt is commodified in Western society.

A wide range of events and activities, schools sessions in particular, proved to be immensely popular. One teacher remarked: "Object handling was brilliant. The children learnt more in that session than I can achieve in weeks in the classroom."

Image: A Roman era mummy portrait, part of the vast collection at the Petrie Museum. 

To find out more about the Petrie Museum use the link below.

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology