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Progress of the work: January 2005 


Julie moving Middle Kingdom boat modelsPlaster Roman mummy case heads waiting to go into storage

The very last few objects are being moved down to our part of the museum's basement. We have been waiting until the conditions down there were suitable for the most fragile ones, including some plaster heads from Roman burials and objects made of organic (plant and animal based) material. 

Our new storage units include some drawer units for the smaller objects, which should improve the way they are stored as well as making it easier to find them. The collection of Egyptian amulets can now be moved into these drawers. This is time-consuming and fiddly work. 

Putting amulets into drawer unitsDrawer units

Meanwhile, our prototype case has arrived and must be installed. So, on the other side of new partition, inside the Greek gallery, technicians from Goppion, the Italian company who will be making the cases for the project, are busy putting it together. It is a big structure, 2.8 metres high, with a single large glass door, and the whole thing takes about two and a half days to put in place. 

One problem becomes immediately clear: the space for the lighting equipment in the top of the case is very small and it is very easy for wires to become detached. Finding this out at this stage is very helpful as it will mean that the case design can be improved to eliminate this, and any other problems which we find. 

Over the next few weeks, we will have the opportunity of experimenting with the case to find out whether any modifications to the design are needed. 

Fitting the door on the caseInstalling the prototype caseThe completed prototype case with internal lights on

Whilst the activities in the galleries are underway, important work is being carried out to check and correct information about the objects which will be displayed in the galleries. Lists must be compiled and checked in preparation for any conservation work which will be required.

There are also regular project meetings, at which the design of the cases for the Egyptian coffins are being discussed with project architect Iain Langlands

It is extremely important that the doors are positioned so that the coffins can be installed safely. The means for supporting the coffins must also be agreed; the aim is to find a solution that is strong but unobtrusive. 

By the last week of January the galleries are completely empty of objects and preparations are being made for the old cases to be removed. First various light and electrical fittings must be removed and the locks taken off the old cases. 

Removing the old casesNow the builders can move in and start the process of clearing out the old cases. The cases were designed in the late 1960s by Mr R V Nicholls, who was then Keeper, and were very innovative at that time, allowing visitors to look at the objects without their view being interrupted by the framework supporting the glass doors. 

It's quite sad to see them go and, as the builders work, the old blue interiors which had been covered up when the displays were last redesigned begin to emerge. It's something of a 'blast from the past'.