Macclesfield's Egyptian Collections to take centre stage at prestigious London Exhibition
The fantastic collection of Egyptology brought back by Macclesfield's Marianne Brocklehurst is being loaned to Two Temple Place in London for a breath taking exhibition 30 January-24 April 2016. The exhibition 'Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt' will tell the story of the pursuit of the body beautiful by the ancient Egyptians, from funerary artefacts to the personal belongings that frequently accompanied them to the grave.
In the late 19th century Marianne Brocklehurst, daughter of John Brocklehurst silk manufacturer and Macclesfield's first MP, made her ventures into Egypt. She travelled with her companion Mary Booth, her nephew Alfred and his footman George. Mary and Marianne came to be known locally as the two MBs. Along with a spot of crocodile hunting they collected antiquities and brought them back to Macclesfield. Eventually Marianne organised for a museum to be built in West Park, funded by her brother, to house her collection. The collection has remained on display ever since and this will be its first trip to the capital.
During the course of preparation for the exhibition Macclesfield Museums has been working with the Petrie Museum in London and discovered just how important the pieces in the collection really are. For instance the mummy case which will be in the exhibition once contained the remains of a 12 year old dancing girl. Marianne and her party opened the case and were worried that people would recognise the distinctive mummy smell and so decided to dispose of the contents. They buried the mummy with 'a good Christian' burial on the banks of the Nile and brought the empty case back home. The museum is also loaning a selection of intimate items that people were buried with – a make-up palette, jewellery, combs, shoes – giving people outside of Macclesfield the opportunity to discover the rich collections that belong to the North-West. Most importantly it will be showcasing Marianne's diary in which she recorded her travels and also painted beautiful watercolours of things she saw along the way.
The Beyond Beauty exhibition has been brought together by The Bulldog Trust in partnership with museums from across the country including Bagshaw Museum, Bexhill Museum, Bolton Museum, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Macclesfield Museums and Touchstones Rochdale. Scattered across these regional museums is a wealth of ancient Egyptian artefacts, which this exhibition brings together collectively for the first time, breaking new ground by shedding light on their shared histories, and in some cases reuniting objects that came from the same archaeological excavations.
Two Temple Place is a magnificent neo-Gothic mansion on London's Victoria Embankment. Its Winter Exhibition Programme aims to support regional museums across the UK, highlighting the great riches that are to be seen through an annual free exhibition. Chief Executive of the Bulldog Trust, Mary Rose Gunn says:
"It is an exceptional opportunity for us to be able to champion the stunning Egyptology collections that are held in museums around the UK. We are also looking forward to strengthening cultural ties between Egypt and the UK and are honoured that His Excellency Mr Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the UK will be formally opening the exhibition on the 28th January 2016."
Admission to the exhibition is free and is open Monday, Thursday-Saturday 10am-4.30pm, Wednesday 10am-9pm, Sunday 11am-4.30pm, closed on Tuesdays. For more information go to www.twotempleplace.org.See these important pieces from Marianne's collection before they travel to London in January at West Park Museum in Macclesfield Wednesday-Sunday, 1-4pm, or when the items return in May 2016. Admission is free.