UCL News


Petrie wins major award

13 May 2005

UCL's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has won the Classic Award category at the 2005 Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence.

Faience statue of a royal fan bearer

The national awards celebrate best practice within museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions. The prizes were announced at a ceremony on 11 May during the 2005 Museum & Heritage Show, a two-day industry event.

The Classic Award was given to the Petrie 'because of its consistent determination to keep moving forward, whilst taking up new agendas, for example in learning and the ethics of dealing with human remains. The judges felt that the Petrie demonstrated an excellent model for university museums as well as demonstrating good practice to all'.

Acting Manager of the Museum Mr Hugh Kilmister said: "The award is tremendously important recognition for us of the work we've been doing, especially developing our online presence and our outreach work with Egyptians and other people of African descent. While as a university museum it is obviously vital for us to continue serving an academic audience, this is an appreciation of the work that my colleagues have been doing to make the museum more widely relevant in the community."

Created in 1892, the Petrie Museum - named in honour of Professor William Flinders Petrie, UCL's first Professor of Archaeology - houses an estimated 80,000 objects, making it one of the greatest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. It illustrates life in the Nile Valley from prehistory through the time of the pharaohs, the Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic periods to the Islamic period.

With the help of government funding, the museum has made the entire collection accessible in an online catalogue and conducts a number of outreach activities for the public and schoolchildren. The museum has also created 'Digital Egypt,' an extensive resource for universities in collaboration with UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.

Only around 10 per cent of the collection is currently on display due to cramped and poor quality conditions. It is planned that the entire collection will be re-housed in a new development, UCL's Panopticon. Mr Kilmister said: "The prize is a particularly timely endorsement of our audience development strategy in the planning of the Panopticon, where from 2009 we will be welcoming a significantly larger and more diverse audience."

This marks the second success for the museum at the prestigious awards. The Petrie received a prize in 2003 for its touring exhibition 'Ancient Egypt: Digging for Dreams.' 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. Attracting more than 94,000 visitors, the show raised ethical issues concerning race, politics, archaeology and the role of museums.

Image: Faience statue of a royal fan bearer from the Petrie collection.

To find out more about the museum use the link below.

Petrie Museum