Book of the Dead exhibition at the Victoria Gallery and Museum

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The Book of the Dead exhibition has now moved over from the Garstang to their sister museum, the Victoria Gallery and Museum. It opened on 21 October, and I went along with my girls in its first week to have a nose and see how it’s worked out.

I have to start by saying that the building that houses the Victoria Gallery and Museum is just gorgeous. It’s red brick, Victorian-era gothic, topped off by a splendid clock tower. Inside, the walls of the lofty rooms and corridors are covered with the most wonderful Victorian tiles, and the floors are mosaics.

To get to the exhibition, you have to go up to the first floor, and it’s down at the end of one of the lovely tiled corridors.

 

It's a long-ish, straight hallway. The walls and ceiling are covered in rectangular, shiny tiles. The floor is mosaic-like. There are small arches near the ceiling at regular intervals.
The hallway you walk down to get to the exhibition

 

The entrance is a single doorway with signage outside with one of my papyrus photos and some text.
The entrance to the exhibition

 

The exhibition itself is in a single room, like at the Garstang. It is, however, different in several ways, including:

  • The background colour of the walls is a dark green rather than black
  • The artefacts are arranged differently around the room
  • The centrepiece is a glass case rather than a false wall
  • The coffin boards of Ipi are behind a glass panel

 

Looking down the wall towards the entrance door. The three coffin boards and end panel of a coffin are on the wall behind glass.
The coffin boards of Ipi are now behind a glass panel

 

The central glass case facing away from the door. There are some of my images and a large information panel.
Some of my images are now behind glass

 

The front side of the central display case with the coffin lid and funerary masks in the foreground
The coffin lid and funerary masks are now inside a display case

 

Looking at the doorway. Just towards the camera is the display case with amulets and some of my photos above it. Just behind the doorway is the case with shabtis.
The amulet case by the door and the shabti case just behind

 

The three sheets of papyri in the central display case.
The papyri in the central display case

 

How does the exhibition work out?

All-in-all, I really like the exhibition in its new home. The Victorian splendour of the VGM takes you back to the so-called ‘golden age’ of Egyptology, and, from a personal perspective, I’m again really happy with how my images look.

 

Five of my papyrus images and an information panel on a wall.
Some of my images looking fab on the wall

 

On the flip side, the exhibition’s in a room it wasn’t designed to be in. Some of the images and information panels are in a glass display case when they really don’t need to be. The windows in the room are covered by light-coloured roller blinds instead of the false walls used in the Garstang, which takes away that underworld feeling the exhibition’s meant to invoke.

Also, disappointingly, the wonderful faux fires are missing.

 

Two lights with coloured bulbs, air fans and fabric made to look like flames.
No more Lake of Fire

 

But, helpfully for visitors, you can still weigh your heart against the feather of truth …

 

Two girls putting heart amulets on a set of scales balanced by a large ostrich feather.
My girls weighing their hearts against the feather of truth

 

If you didn’t get to see the exhibition at the Garstang, it’ll be on at the VGM for a whole year. The museum’s open Tuesday–Saturday, so if you missed it through it not being open at weekends, now’s your chance.

I am, of course, biased, but I’d really recommend coming to see it. I’ve heard so much positive feedback from people who’ve been, and I have to agree that all the hard work from those involved has really paid off. I’m truly proud and honoured to have been able to play a part.

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