The Festival of Libraries arrived in town from Wednesday to Sunday, and there were plenty of cultural attractions for visitors to enjoy.

Among the most impressive was the "Queen" of Egyptology, who graced Bolton with her "presence" as an oil painting was brought to Bolton Library and Museum to reside in the Egyptology collection.

The oil painting of Amelia Edwards is on temporary display in the museum’s Egyptology collection, and focuses on the writer and founder of Egypt Exploration Society (EES), and her relationship with Bolton’s Annie Barlow.

Bolton is home to the biggest local authority collection of Egyptian excavation artefacts, making it worthy of the town of culture title given this year.

As part of the Festival of Libraries and in connection with the EES, a painting was unveiled ahead of a talk on Wednesday night, given by current director, Dr Carl Graves.

Speaking after his talk, he said: “It has been really exciting to be here in Bolton, it’s always a good audience here.

“I think a lot of people thought it was going to be about Egypt, so it delivered a bit of a shock factor, as this is more about how we understand ancient Egypt, who we understand it through, and how we find relevance to those stories in the 21st century.

“There are young people passionate about Egyptology but don’t find themselves reflected in it and maybe it is quite traditional, so I want to break this down by presenting a character from the past so, Amelia is a great example of that.”

Amelia toured Egypt in the winter of 1873-74 and found fascination in the artefacts, particularly when her party stumbled upon an unopened sanctuary.

After writing about her travels in A Thousand Miles Up the North, Amelia sought to prevent damage and looting of Egyptian treasures and thus, founded the EES.

Dr Graves said: “I think people have learnt something new, not just about Amelia, but about the field of Egyptology.

“We have got a historic connection with Bolton Museum, where a large proportion of Bolton’s Egypt objects come from the EES and there is also the personal connection between Amelia and Annie Barlow.

“I think it is really important for us to understand what is really unique about Egyptology.

“It has quite feminist history, largely founded by prominent women.”

Annie Barlow was honorary local secretary for the Bolton region of the EES to raise money for excavations in Egypt. Annie had asked for her share of the finds to be given to the Chadwick Museum, the Victorian forerunner of today’s Bolton Museum.

Today, Bolton Museum holds over 12,000 objects from Egypt, ranging from mummies of animals and humans, tomb models and coffins, amulets, tools, and weapons.

Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Andy Morgan was at the event with mayoress, Helen Morgan.

He said: “I thought it was really refreshing because it is a new subject to us and we were here primarily to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the museum but what this has added is really interesting.

“One of the main things we heard was that it is the biggest council-owned Egyptology exhibition, and to say to people you don’t have to go to London, you can see history in Bolton, is amazing.

“I personally knew that we had the exhibition but did not realise it was so big and so expensive and Jo has spent most of her life documenting and researching it and she is not even from Bolton but feels like she is now.”

Bolton, the Greater Manchester town of culture for 2024, is making its name proud, as the council works with various organisations to cement its place as a cultural haven, including more Egyptology talks and exhibitions yet to come.

One of these will be with Professor at York University, Joann Fletcher, who will hold a public talk on ancient Egyptian mummies on Saturday, July 12 at 10am at the museum.

Prof Fletcher also won an award for her services to the collection on the night of the talk.

The event ended with people being able to see the painting and walking around the collection, including seeing the tomb of Tuthmose III.

Dr Graves said: “I think it is great what Ian has done with the museum as you are immersed and not just the artefacts but as you walk through the galleries, you find yourself in a three-dimensional space and you can see the birds and see the hieroglyphics.”

“And I think to have that experience somewhere other than Egypt is unusual, so I think Bolton really has something unique about it.”

Bolton Museum has its very own replica tomb, which is very similar to the real one of pharaoh Tuthmose III, and it provides a respectful environment for the display of The Unknown Man, a 3,400-year-old mummified man who lived during the Ramesside Period of Egypt.