A stunning collection of Egyptian artefacts dating back 5,000 years is about to be revealed to the public after being hidden away in storage for 40 years.
Beadwork cover from mummy c930BC. Image by Simon Critchley
Smell the perfume of the Pharaohs, get up close and personal with a mummy, admire beautiful beadwork and see a sarcophagus lid that is 3,000-years-old as the Egyptians are brought back to life at The Atkinson in Southport with a new permanent gallery set to open this October.
New Egyptology gallery to open in Southport. Image by Simon Critchley
Sefton’s Egyptian collection is so well preserved and original in content that it is thrilling Egyptology academics from The University of Liverpool, Egyptology societies and further afield.
The collection belonged to female adventurer Anne Goodison who collected it in the late 1800s. It comprises 1,000 pieces, collected on trips to Egypt before the tomb of Tutankhamen was even discovered. It was housed in her own museum room at the family home, Beach Lawn, on the Waterloo beachfront near Crosby.
After her demise in 1906 aged 61, her husband had no interest in the collection and sold it to a local man, Mr T. Davies, who donated it to Bootle Museum and Gallery. When the building closed in the 1970s it was transferred to The Atkinson, Southport, where it has been kept in storage until now.
Joanne Chamberlain, The Atkinson’s documentation officer, who is one of the team preparing the collection for display says: “Anne Goodison was way ahead of her time. She was a student of hieroglyphics, which was revolutionary at the time, and visited Egypt twice. She really had an eye for the most interesting objects, not just pretty pieces of jewellery, but artefacts that have thrilled and fascinated Egyptology academics because they are so fantastically well preserved. This really is an exciting exhibition.”
One of the more unusual items is a Butterfly Clamp which was used to stop stone columns toppling over when they were being assembled. There is also a pair of Egyptian sandals – trendy by today’s standards with a toe-post – perfume bottles, amulets and “Shabtis” – tiny servant figures laid in tombs who, it was believed, would spring into service in the afterlife.
Says Joanne: “We have an amazing collection of Paddle Dolls – they look like a wooden spoon with hair and were fertility symbols – and it’s very rare to find them so well preserved. We also have scarabs which have knitted or woven wings, which rarely survive, but we have them intact, which is just incredible.”
The Egyptology Gallery at The Atkinson launches on Friday 24 October. For more information visit www.theatkinson.co.uk