Arts Derbyshire


New exhibition encourages visitors to question what they know about ancient Egypt

New exhibition encourages visitors to question what they know about ancient Egypt

Derby Museums will unveil an innovative and thought-provoking new exhibition entitled Displaced: From the Nile to the Derwent this July, which will then be open to the public until 24 November.

Generations of visitors to Derby Museum and Art Gallery have been welcomed and encouraged to see the Egyptian collections. They are some of Derby Museums’ oldest and most loved and include the mummified remains of two ancient Egyptians which have been a highlight of many peoples’ visits for over 100 years. Their names are Pypyu and Pa-sheri.

As Derby Museums develops its thinking for new, permanent displays, this exhibition will act as an introduction, combining new research with loaned objects that help tell the stories of the mummified people and collections that are in Derby. Visitors will be able to see objects, some of which have been in storage for decades, as well as significant items on loan from other institutions including Manchester Museum, the British Museum and private collections.

The exhibition will reveal new research about Derby’s collection. Investigations have been conducted over more than two years and have involved specialists from across the globe as well as new technologies. Visitors will be encouraged to share their ideas around the sometimes challenging histories and ethics surrounding these collections. Responses will help shape the future of the Museum and Art Gallery displays.

Laura Phillips, Head of Interpretation and Display at Derby Museums, said: “A key aspect of the exhibition is understanding with visitors how much they want to see – giving them the choice about whether to view the mummified remains or everything but, including never before seen CT scans. The realities of the mass displacement of the ancient dead and the objects from their tombs is laid bare. The demand in Europe was met by explorers, adventurers and archaeologists all fuelled by a fascination with Egypt from the late 1700s – often referred to as ‘Egyptomania’.”

Against this history of how material originating in Egypt came to museums like Derby’s, the exhibition will reflect on how we can ensure displays are as respectful as possible, treating the mummified humans in the care of Derby Museums with dignity, now and into the future.

Exciting new collaborations have connected Derby with the Egyptian city Luxor – the Derwent to the Nile – and provided new information from Egyptian heritage professionals and the next generation of curators. Children from the Bemrose Primary School have been connecting digitally with students at the Future International School in Luxor to share ideas and opinions around ancient Egypt. Through live online lessons together they have found out about each other’s lives and experiences in the UK and Egypt, whilst exploring and helping Derby Museums understand its collections through connecting them back to their original home.

Schools from across the region are invited to visit the exhibition free of charge and will be encouraged to think about the future preservation and treatment of Egyptian collections.

Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums, concluded: “For centuries, the West has claimed Egyptian collections for themselves. This show seeks to challenge that narrative. Preparatory work for Displaced has seen discussions between young people in the UK and Egypt regarding items that are important in their history, culture and identity today. Museums help people find their place in the world. They are places of reflection where complex issues such as identity and belonging can be pondered. The Egyptian collection is one of the oldest and most loved aspects of Derby Museums. This new exhibition encourages present museum goers to look from a new perspective, which ultimately asks why did magnificent objects and people find themselves thousands of miles from home in the city of Derby. 

We want visitors to give us their views and feedback as part of our ongoing commitment to re-interpret our collections which we hold in trust on behalf of the people of Derby.”

 Displaced: From the Nile to the Derwent is open until 24 November 2024. The exhibition is £5 for ages 18 and over and free of charge for under 18s. A trail for children is available at £1 per sheet. For more information about this and other free collections available to see at Derby Museums’ three sites, visit

As a charity Derby Museums relies on funding and grants from organisations and donations from businesses and the public, all of which is gratefully received in order to ensure that admission to the museums remains free for all. Derby Museums is additionally grateful to Foundation Derbyshire (Tom Carey Fund), The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Headley Fellowship with Art Fund, MX Display and the Derby Museums Friends without whose support this exhibition would not have been possible.

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