33 A bag-style tunic found on the Manchester Museum mummy 1770 Susan Martin 1770 is the accession number given to a mummy once held in the Manchester Museum Egyptology collection. There has been much debate over the date and gender of this mummy and whether it has been re-wrapped at some point in its history. 1770 is now, however, strongly believed to be the mummy of a female adolescent (David 1984: 41), and both the textiles and the human remains are considered to be contemporary and of Ptolemaic date (Cockitt, Martin and David 2014: 95–102; Martin 2008). In
Golden Mummies of Egypt presents new insights and a rich perspective on beliefs about the afterlife during an era when Egypt was part of the Greek and Roman worlds (c. 300 BCE–200 CE). This beautifully illustrated book, featuring photography by Julia Thorne, accompanies Manchester Museum’s first-ever international touring exhibition. Golden Mummies of Egypt is a visually spectacular exhibition that offers visitors unparalleled access to the museum’s outstanding collection of Egyptian and Sudanese objects – one of the largest in the UK.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, museums in Europe and North America were at their largest and most powerful. New buildings were bigger; objects flooded into them, and more people visited them than ever before. The Manchester Museum is an ideal candidate for understanding cultures of display in twentieth-century Britain. It is a treasure trove of some four million priceless objects that are irreplaceable and unique. Like many large European collections, the origins of the Manchester Museum are to be found in a private cabinet: that of John Leigh Philips. This book traces the fate of his cabinet from his death in 1814. The establishment of the Manchester Natural History Society (MNHS) allowed naturalists to carve out a space in Manchester's cultural landscape. The Manchester Museum's development was profoundly affected by the history of the University in which it operated. In January 1868, the Natural History Society formally dissolved, and an interim commission took control of its collections; the Manchester Geological Society transferred its collections the following year. The new collection was to be purely scientific, comprising geology, zoology and botany, with no place for some of the more exotic specimens of the Society. The objects in the collection became part of Manchester's civic identity, bringing with them traces of science, empire and the exotic. Other museological changes were afoot in the 1990s. Natural history collections became key sites for public engagement with environmental issues and biodiversity and more recently as sites for exhibiting art.
beginning of the twentieth centuries. It forms the invisible history of the Egyptian collection at the Manchester Museum, housed in the ‘Ancient Worlds Galleries’ inside Alfred Waterhouse’s splendid neo-Gothic building. These artefacts are best known as a world-leading collection of Egyptian archaeology that has helped to nourish young minds and contributed to global knowledge on the history of ancient civilisation. The collection includes a unique set of ritual objects from a tomb in Thebes, a 3.8-metre-tall pyramid temple column from Herakleopolis Magna, various animal
4 Acquisition: collecting networks and the museum The Manchester Museum was based on the collections of the Manchester Natural History Society. Very soon after the transfer to Owens College, however, this founding collection made up only a fraction of the specimens housed within the Museum. Elsewhere, the Sloane collection at the British Museum and General Pitt Rivers’s material at the University of Oxford accounted for only a tiny proportion of the museums they seeded. This chapter explores how the rest of the collection came to be in the Manchester Museum
are at least three distinct styles of wrapping, referred to as Rhombic wrapped, Red Shroud and Stucco mummies (Corcoran and Svoboda 2010: 11). The experience of the writer is that the Rhombic wrapped mummies are the most common and the Red Shroud mummies the least common of these styles. The opportunity to examine computed tomography (CT) scans of the Red Shroud mummies in the Manchester Museum and a mummy in the Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel, resulted in it becoming apparent that there may have been differences in the approach to the details of
3 Culture: artefacts and disciplinary formation The Manchester Museum was founded as an institution devoted to natural history, but did not remain so for long. Even by the time it was fully opened in 1890, some man-made things were on display beside the natural specimens. The proliferation of these kinds of objects during its early decades was not planned by Museum staff, but rather expanded thanks to influential donors. Here I trace the differentiation of an intellectually and architecturally distinct portion of the collection devoted to Egyptology
6 Visitors: audiences and objects So far this book has been largely concerned with those who worked in and around the Manchester Museum. Even including regular collectors and the many subaltern workers who remain invisible in the historical record, they numbered only a few hundred. But those who experienced the Museum, who visited to view, use and abuse the collections, were far more numerous. At a conservative estimate – accounting as far as possible for repeat visits – around ten million people passed through the Manchester Museum’s doors in its first century
Conclusion: the museum in the twentieth century ‘A museum is like a living organism’, argued William Henry Flower, Director of the British Museum (Natural History), ‘it requires continual and tender care. It must grow, or it will perish; and the cost and labour required to maintain it in a state of vitality is not yet by any means fully realised or provided for.’1 These were prescient words at the turn of the nineteenth century for his institution and others. There are now over four million objects in the Manchester Museum (figure 7.1). They are no longer
unwrappings continued during this transitional period, a fundamental paradigm shift towards science-based investigations was evident. In 1908, Dr Margaret Alice Murray (1863–1963), Egyptologist seconded to the Manchester Museum, undertook a public unwrapping of the so-called ‘Two Brothers’, the Twelfth Dynasty mummies of Khnum-Nakht and Nakht-Ankh unearthed by a team of Egyptian workmen working for Flinders Petrie at Deir Rifeh. Her approach at the time was purported to be novel in that she led a multidisciplinary team of