BOLTON Museum has unveiled ambitious £1.8 million plans to build a new gallery on top of the Central Library to house its world-renowned Egyptology collection — transforming it in a major tourist attraction.
The extension will house a full-scale reconstruction of the tomb of a great Egyptian Pharaoh — the only one of its kind in the world.
The Bolton News revealed in March that the burial chamber of Thutmose III will form the centrepiece of a bid being prepared by the museum as part of proposals to radically redesign the Egyptology gallery.
The project has evolved dramatically since then — from creating an additional floor level in the existing Egypt gallery to installing the facsimile tomb, to drawing up plans to build new gallery space via an extension on top of the landmark building.
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “Our initial Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) bid in 2012 enabled us to explore a number of options with regards the Egyptology gallery and we’ve carried out consultation along the way.
“Initial plans to renovate the existing gallery have now been re-drafted to include a purpose-built gallery space, created above the museum and library building.
“Our bid for £1.8 million will remain the same, but will be slightly delayed to allow for the plans to be drawn up."
Bolton Museum is planning to submit the bid at the end of August, with a decision expected in December.
If it is given the green light “preparatory works” can start early next year.
Under the new plans, visitors will enter the new Egyptology gallery into what is now the Wildlife on Your Doorstep display — with those exhibits being relocated elsewhere in the museum — and walk through into the new extension before exiting into what is now the museum’s reception area.
Local architect Bradshaw Gass and Hope is working on the designs.
The council spokesman added: “These latest proposals will allow us to create a bespoke Egyptology gallery that will attract visitors from far and wide.
“The facsimile tomb will be the main attraction and be like no other in the world.
“With the extra space allowed for the scheme we will be able to create a far better visitor experience, with an introduction area, displays to prepare visitors for what they are about to see and further exhibition space.
“It’s an exciting and ambitious plan for the museum, and could even be subject to change, but we will be working on refining the proposals over the next few months ready for submission to HLF.”
Ian Trumble, chairman of the Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society, said the new plans would make Bolton the Egyptology centre of the North.
He added: “The new plans for the redevelopment of the Egyptology gallery at Bolton Museum are quite a change from what had been proposed previously.
“The proposed gallery, as it stands, would become the largest single gallery in the entire museum.
“This is something we are certainly very excited about. And rightfully so, Bolton has one of the best collections of Egyptology in the country.”
He added: “The new plans will give the museum much more freedom on how to display its material. It wont be restricted by the space as the space is being constructed from scratch.
“Very few museums in the country can say they have this opportunity.
“So it goes without saying that Bolton's Egyptology Gallery will become one of the best displayed collections in the country. As a society we are looking forward to working closely with the museum in the development of the layout.
“We have no doubt that such an amazing development will make Bolton Museum, and the town, a destination for people from all around.
“We already know that through our connections with other similar, more distant, societies that they are anticipating the new gallery as much as we are. It will certainly go quite a way to making Bolton the Egyptology centre of the North.”
- Thutmose III was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty.
- During the first 22 years of Thutmose’s reign he was co-regent with his stepmother and aunt, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh.
- After her death and his later rise to pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen — no fewer than 17 campaigns were conducted, and he conquered from Niya in North Syria to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Nubi a.
- Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 BCE to March 11, 1425 BCE; however, this includes the 22 years he was co-regent to Hatshepsut.
- When Thutmose III died, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings as were the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt.
- Thutmose III's mummy was discovered in the Deir el-Bahri Cache above the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in 1881.
- The mummy had been damaged extensively in antiquity by tomb robbers.
- The mummy of Thutmose III now resides in the Royal Mummies Hall of the Cairo Museum.
- Bolton’s collection of ancient Egyptian material is arguably one of the most important in a British local authority museum and includes about 12,000 objects from more than 65 sites in Egypt.
- Unlike comparable collections in the UK, the majority of the objects are excavated and thus retain full provenance information.
- All phases of Egyptian material culture from the Neolithic Period (c. 5,000BC) to the Arab Period (7th Century AD onwards) are represented.
- Items include textiles, basketry and boxes, funerary objects, mummies, coffins, coffin elements and cartonnage, architectural elements (wall reliefs, tomb reliefs including a false door, inscribed column fragments, beaded wall covering, painted plaster for walls and floor), ceramic, stone, faience, wood, glass, and faience vessels, amulets and jewellery, cosmetic containers, toiletry items (combs, razors, mirrors, tweezers, palettes), tools and weapons, toys, ritual objects (large bronze incense stand, incense tongs, situla; clay hair balls) and ostraca, papyri, scribal equipment.
WHERE HAS BOLTON’S COLLECTION COME FROM?
- One of the largest and most successful local mill companies was the firm of Barlow and Jones, founded by James Barlow of Edgeworth.
- Annie Barlow (1863-1941), James’ daughter, was recruited to the Egypt Exploration Fund (later the Egypt Exploration Society) while studying at University College London and was appointed as Honorary Local Secretary for the Bolton Region to raise money for excavations in Egypt.
- The Egypt Exploration Society gave objects to institutions or collectors who had funded their work.
- Annie Barlow asked for her share of the finds to be given to the Chadwick Museum, the Victorian forerunner of today’s Bolton Museum.
- Bolton Museum was a major supporter of the Egypt Exploration Society for the next century, and a large proportion of the museum’s Egyptian collection derives from EES excavations as selected by the curators in the annual distribution of finds.
- The first two curators of the Chadwick Museum, William Midgley (curator 1883-1906) and his son Thomas Midgley (curator 1906-1934), were specialists in the study of ancient textiles.
- In some cases, they provided excavators with an assessment of the textiles.
- Bolton also supported some excavations in Egypt and the Sudan beyond those of the EES such as the British School of Archaeology in Egypt and the British Museum.
- Bolton Museum also received some donations of material including material from the Petrie Museum, Tamworth Castle, and the Wellcome Trust.
- Bolton Museum employs a specialist collections access officer, Dr. Carolyn Routledge, to work with the Egyptian collection.