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25 June 2021
Takeover Day: Egypt Comes to The Fens: Project, Plans, and Progress
Young Curators are a group of twelve young people aged 15-24 taking part in a project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop a Design Brief that will inform the redisplay of Ancient Egyptian material in the Museum's Main Gallery.
This blog has been written by Jaime-Lea, a participant in the Young Curators project, as part of the Kids in Museums Digital Takeover Day 2021.
Over the last 6 weeks we have been working on informing a redisplay of the Museum’s Egyptology collection. The area we have been given to display the Ancient Egyptian collection is in the Museum’s Main Gallery.
Wisbech & Fenland Museum is one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the UK. The building was completed in 1847 and is Grade II listed. Incredibly, the museum still has its original display cases that are part of the preservation listing, meaning that they are protected by law. The corner which will house our display, features beautiful original display cabinets, which cannot be altered, so one of our challenges is to work with the space we have and to creatively re-imagine it!
Our sessions so far have been brilliant, crammed with lots of information and interesting discussions. We have even been lucky enough to have guest speakers pass on their useful knowledge to us. For this reason, there have been many ideas floating around amongst our group and a wealth of different thoughts and feelings. But now that the weeks of this project are rapidly passing us by, its time we start to get our ideas down on paper and begin to seriously put our plan together.
Until now, we have been meeting remotely on Zoom, and have been putting our ideas together by using breakout rooms to work in smaller groups. This has been a great chance to collaborate with other members of the group and bounce ideas around to then take back to the rest of the team.
We have also been using the Zoom whiteboard function to start to imagine how we might plan the space inside the cases. From this we have so far developed rough sketches, with lots of annotations that pull all our ideas together.
Personally, I work better with photographs, so I have translated some of our ideas, and plan sketches, directly onto a photograph of the Museum’s display cases. I have found this really beneficial to help me visualise the space we have got to work with, the layout of different zones we are planning to include, and also to begin to think about the accessibility of the area so that we can use it to its full potential. I have found this a clear, simple, but effective way to picture the composition of what we plan to do and get a good feel for the display we are aiming to create.
This plan isn’t final (or set in Egyptian stone, just yet!), but it’s a good culmination of all our thoughts and ideas so far. It’s a tool we can use to build on and refine. The photograph I have used, also shows some of the objects from the Ancient Egyptian collection itself. I think this is super useful to help give us a feeling of the size and scale of what we are working with.
For example, one of the key objects of the Wisbech & Fenland’s Ancient Egyptian collection is a mummified hand, resting on a red pillow and encased in a gilt frame. This is often thought of as ‘the star of the show’ by visitors, but it isn’t physically huge. So, this photograph plan I’ve created, gives us a clear idea of the size of the framed hand, compared to other objects (as we have lots that are tiny!), as well as showing the framed hand amongst the cabinets that will house it. As we have been unable to meet in the museum physically due to COVID-19 restrictions, many of us haven’t seen the objects up close yet.
Thankfully, the easing of restrictions means that soon we can meet in person inside the Museum. This will be a fantastic chance to make real progress on the project and feel much more hands on!
Please check out our progress made on the project’s very own Instagram: @egyptcomestothefens
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