Manchester Ancient Egypt Society members enjoy a range of trips to Egyptology collections across the UK and further afield. Previous trips have included visits to Stockholm, Turin, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Liverpool, Southport, Oxford and London.
TRIP TO HOLLAND, SPRING 2017 – by Glynis Greaves, Rob Coles, Chris Marriott and Florence Sokol
A group of MAES members recently spent a long weekend in Holland, visiting some of the major museums in Amsterdam and Leiden. Here’s a quick summary of some of the collections visited.
Leiden Museum Of Egyptology by Glynis Greaves
The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden grew out of the collection of the university and focuses on ancient civilisations. Its permanent Egyptian galleries cover the entire ground floor – almost one and a half thousand objects are on display.
The Egyptian galleries contain so many objects of such quality and state of preservation that it is impossible to choose highlights. The double statue of Maya and Merit, the reliefs of General Horemheb, pillars from the (19th Dynasty) tomb of Ptahmes, stone monuments from Abydos, the mastaba of Hetepheraket from Saqqara, are just a few.
The temporary exhibition Queens of the Nile, told the story of the five most powerful queens of the New Kingdom. Their lives were illustrated by well-displayed objects, including statues, jewellery, cosmetic containers, household items and so on, which emphasised the luxury, opulence and splendour of their world, as well as each queen’s individual significance. A unique attraction was the display of items recovered from the tomb of Nefertari, on loan from Museo Egizio in Turin.
Huis Marseille: In Egypt /Travellers & Photographers 1850-1900 by Rob Coles
Huis Marseille was built in the mid-17th century by French merchant, Isaac Focquier and the layout of this imposing canal-side mansion remains pretty much unchanged since construction several centuries ago. Huis Marseille’s use however changed quite dramatically in 1999 when it was opened as the first photography museum in the Netherlands.
We were fortunate then, to discover a collection of photographs from Egypt, taken between 1850 and 1900 was one of the main exhibitions showing at Huis Marseille. Huis Marseille had been able to borrow a large number of photos, albums and books illustrated with photos from several Dutch collections, including the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, the Dutch Museum of Photography, the National Library of the Netherlands, the Dutch Royal Collections, Teylers Museum and the Special Collections of Amsterdam and Leiden Universities.
The photographs were displayed over a number of floors in the building and subjects covered included monuments, landscapes and the people of Egypt and Nubia.
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam by Chris Marriott
The Rijksmuseum is the most visited museum in the Netherlands, and is the national museum dedicated to Dutch art and history. The present building opened in 1885, and has three floors with a huge variety of pictures, furniture, ceramics, weapons, silver-smithing – basically anything Dutch!
All the rooms are laid out thematically; for example there’s a room about naval history that contains paintings of naval battles (only showing battles that the Dutch won, of course!), a ship’s cannon, and a beautiful 1:12th scale model of a Dutch warship built by a shipyard in the late 17th century to be exhibited in the Dutch Admiralty building.
The most famous object in the museum is the Rembrandt painting called The Night Watch, which normally has large crowds around it.
Hermitage, Amsterdam by Florence Sokol
The famous St. Petersburg state museum – the Hermitage – has one of its dependencies in Amsterdam in an old monumental building called Amstelhof, which was created in 1683 and until 2007 served as the house of care for the elderly.
One current exhibition entitled 1917 Romanovs and Revolution showed the fashionable society in St. Petersburg 100 years ago with a flourishing art scene, interrupted and ended with WW1, the Revolution of February 1917 and subsequent deaths of the Tsar and his family. The walls of the rooms displayed scenes which brought the story alive. Many items were displayed including dresses, pottery, photographs, weapons and Nicholas’s birthday dolls; a pair was made each birthday representing ethnic groups within his empire.
A second exhibition was called Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age, displays over thirty very large 17th century group portraits that can be regarded as the artistic siblings of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Due to their enormous proportions the portraits are rarely on view, let alone shown together in a single exhibition. They show merchants and civic guards and influential citizens of all ranks and social classes. A guide told us there are 100 of these huge paintings in store.