A MULTI-million pound transformation of Bolton Museum is set to make the town an international tourist attraction drawing in crowds from around the world to see one of the most significant Egyptology collections.

The Bolton News revealed last week, museum bosses are to invest £3.8 million so visitors can experience the wonder of Ancient Egypt.

And for the first time, the museum will be able to exhibit items which because of the conditions and lighting could not be displayed, such as rare textiles.

The new Eternal Egypt Gallery will replace the museum’s current Egyptology exhibition, the centrepiece of which will be a full size reproduction of the burial chamber of Thutmose III.

The Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “We are confident that our new scheme will be able to address any maintenance issues, as well as deliver a fantastic new gallery for our Egyptology collection which has been on the cards for some time as part of our overall strategy to regenerate the town centre.

“We are very excited about the project and can’t wait to get started for the benefit of the museum and our visitors.”

Visitors will be able to experience a walk-through, interactive experience in the tomb.

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

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 Hatshepsutin 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.

Currently only five per cent of the collection can be displayed and the new gallery will allow more of the 15,000 artefacts to be shown on a rotational basis.

Visitors will be able to learn about the town’s important links to the world of pharaohs and pyramids in an interactive, custom-built gallery.

The money will come from a Bolton Council capital grant of £3.8 million, income from the museum’s touring exhibition, plus a contribution from sponsor Eddie Davies.

It is hoped that preparation work on the project, entitled Eternal Egypt, will begin in September with major structural changes commencing from December subject to relevant planning permission.

Bolton’s Egyptology collection is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian collections in the UK with 15,000 artefacts.

The new Eternal Egypt gallery will be created in the museum’s current Art Gallery, History Centre and temporary exhibition gallery, on the first floor of Bolton Museum.

On completion, the Art Gallery will be situated in the former Egyptology Gallery.

The History Centre will have a new, permanent home on the ground floor of the building, within Central Library.

A local mill owner’s daughter, Annie Barlow, was a member of the Egypt Exploration Fund in the 19th Century and helped to raise funds for excavations in Egypt. In return she was gifted a number of finds, which she donated to the Chadwick Museum – the Victorian forerunner for Bolton Museum.

Eternal Egypt will document this historical connection as well as exploring ancient Egyptians’ fascination with the afterlife.

More than 250 items from the collection have been on loan to the hugely popular touring exhibition ‘The Quest for Immortality’ since 2011 and the Thutmose III tomb was built exclusively for the tour.


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, co??ins, co??in 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.


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


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.