BOLTON Museum could become a global attraction after unveiling ambitious plans to house a full-scale reconstruction of the tomb of a great Egyptian Pharaoh.
The burial chamber of Thutmose III forms the centrepiece of a million pound bid being prepared by the museum as part of ambitious proposals to radically redesign Bolton Museum’s Egyptology gallery and turn it into a major attraction.
Jo Lewis, community engagement officer at Bolton Library and Museum Services, said: “It is an exciting time for the museum, this facsimile tomb is the only one in the world and would create a major tourist attraction in Bolton.
"It has the potential to bring people into our town from around the world — there is nothing like it anywhere else.
“This tomb is comparable to the cave paintings, Lascaux II in France, and that is a world tourist site.”
In 2012, Bolton Council was awarded £115,300 lottery grant to develop plans for the gallery which allowed it to apply for a further £1.8 million grant this year.
The museum will find out in September whether its Heritage Lottery Fund bid has been successful.
The initial funding allowed the museum to involve the community in shaping the future of the Egyptian collection.
Staff have also digitally recorded the thousands of pieces which form the collection.
The burial chamber, which was commissioned by United Exhibits Group, features in the Quest for Immortality — The Hidden Treasure of Ancient Egypt in Taiwan.
This is also showcasing pieces from Bolton’s collection.
The museum already houses part of the material used to mummify Thutmose III and fragments of objects found in his tomb.
Miss Lewis said the tomb was not just about death but provided an insight into ancient Egypt and the way they lived and their beliefs.
She added: “It is a really exciting project. This will allow Bolton Museum to compete with the bigger museums.”
The money would also allow the museum to display its Egyptian collection in a more appealing way for all age groups and backgrounds.
Local firms will be involved in the redevelopment of the gallery, as well as those who have worked on design in the British Museum and the children’s museum Eureka!
Ian Trumble, chairman of Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society, has been involved in the consultation for the project.
He said: "The redevelopment will allow the collection to be more accessible to a wider audience and to societies like ours.
“The outdated display currently makes it difficult for people to engage with the collections, and subsequently hard for societies and interest groups like BAES to use the galleries and displays.
“We are very excited about the inclusion of the facsimile tomb. It is a one-of a kind and will attract many tourists to the museum. It will set Bolton Museum apart from any other Egyptian gallery in the UK.
“The tomb will complement the important collection, as well as making a dramatic statement and excitement for the visitors.
"Very few of us have the chance to see something like that for real, and from what we understand the facsimile tomb is an amazing copy — you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.”
The award-winning Quest for Immortality — The Hidden Treasure of Ancient Egypt exhibition is making its way across the Far East.
— will open in China next week.
Featuring about 250 objects from Bolton’s 15,000-strong Egyptology collection, the exhibition attracted more than a million visitors during its tour of Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.
Cllr Anthony Connell, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “We have one of the most significant ancient Egyptian collections in the UK and the gallery is already hugely popular.
“We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised its importance and is supporting us to develop ideas in conjunction with the local community in order to enhance the visitor experience and improve access for everyone who wishes to view the collection.
"These ideas will then inform the next stage of the bid.
“We’re very excited about what the future holds for the gallery and museum as it is one of the top visitor attractions in Greater Manchester and this will only further increase the number of visitors to the town.”