The Foreign Archaeology collection at Bristol Museum is mostly Egyptian material, but there’s also Greek, Roman and Assyrian finds. The collection’s part of the World Cultures department so we also have responsibility for ethnography (plus numismatics, historic maps, militaria, and an empire & commonwealth collection).
In Foreign Archaeology alone, there’s over 10,000 objects. 600 of those are on display in our Egypt and Assyria galleries and most of the rest are available online (not many with photos yet though- that’s on the list!).
Most of the Egyptian material was excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt. Some was donated by private collectors too but the provenance and background information isn’t so certain on those. Where possible, we try to use material from excavations for display.
In our Egypt Gallery there’s sections on belief, life, death and the afterlife. Alongside those we’ve included thought provoking areas about Egypt within Africa, identity, where we get our ideas about Egypt from, and the ethics of displaying and studying human remains. Our latest addition is an audio guide (‘DiscoveryPENS’). They’re aimed at visually impaired people but anyone who wants to use one can borrow a ‘pen’ from reception and try them out. We’ve also transferred our digital labels to a more secure system which allows even more images and information to be available on the kiosks. We’re trialling an app which means that in the future our visitors should be able to access the labels on their phones too.
At the moment we’re working on an exhibition about death around the world, due to open in October 2015. It’s going to include objects from all the Bristol Museum collections- Public History, British Archaeology, Eastern Art, Applied Art, Fine Art, Ethnography and Foreign Archaeology. There will also be AV and oral histories, hopefully including something about the archaeological excavation of human remains. The public programme’s got loads of potential too- there’s provisional plans for a Mexican Day of the Dead event, dayschools, gallery talks, theatre, a funeral fair, film screenings, and debates. We’re pretty excited about this one!