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Wooden Coffins Project

“Condition Assessment, Documentation, and Conservation of Wooden Coffins stored at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo” Project (EMCCP)

In December 2015 the Egyptian Museum was submitted the project of the DOCUMENTATION AND CONSERVATION OF WOODEN COFFINS STORED AT THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM, to the U. S Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) 2016 competition.

In August, 2016, the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation awarded a grant to the Egyptian Museum for this project which aims to improve preservation for 600 of the coffins in museum storage (in the basement and the third floor). The project also provides a unique opportunity to train the museum’s curators and conservators in the proper documentation, treatment, conservation, storage, and study of these numerous coffins.

There are a number of real and lasting impacts on the collection of wooden coffins held in the museum’s basement and third-floor storage rooms.

Full inventory of the wooden coffins

For the first time we have a complete survey of the collection of wooden coffins held at the EMC. Each of the 626 coffins has received a preliminary conservation assessment and description, with a number having undergone emergency conservation intervention. The EMC has an unparalleled collection of wooden coffins, from the Pharaonic through to the Graeco-Roman era. Some examples are unique among ancient Egyptian coffin collections around the world. The location of the coffins within the storage areas has also undergone a rationalisation with regard to their chronological and assemblage groupings. The result of this inventory and chronological clustering will greatly facilitate scholars who apply for access to the collection.

This project has provided a focused training programme for junior museum curators and conservators. Such technical and practical knowledge aimed at a specific and sizable problem is not available in university curricula in Egypt. Such training transmitted to a new generation of museum professionals will continue to influence the fields of curatorship and conservation well into the future.

Exhibition

As part of the EMC Coffins Project, a number of the rarest examples of our unique collection of restored coffins were put on permanent display. With the relocation of the Royal Mummy Collection to the NMEC, The Upper Floor Gallery 56 used to display the extensive collection of coffins and associated objects from Bab el-Gasus, which was discovered in 1891 in a tomb located near the north-eastern corner of the temple enclosure of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari. This undisturbed tomb was a cache for burials of the High Priests of Amun and their families from the 21st Dynasty (1070–945 BC). The area became known as Bab el-Gasus (Door of the Priests).
The exhibition launched on the occasion of the 118th anniversary of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in November 2020.