Garstang A-go-go

Just a quick plug for the wonderful Garstang Museum of Archaeology at the University of Liverpool.

Professor John Garstang worked in Egypt and the Ancient Near East in the early 20th Century, and founded the Institute of Archaeology in Liverpool in 1904, which is now part of the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology (Jo's alma mater). The museum was named in his honour, and has recently been moved and completely redeveloped. 

To our shame, we have to admit we hadn't visited the Garstang since it reopened back in summer 2014.  But, being in Liverpool on a Wednesday and with the World Museum's Ancient Egypt galleries closed for refurbishment, we decided to poke our heads in.

Two words: "wonderful things".  It wasn't only the quality of the display that was striking, although without question it is a well curated space - thoroughly modern, lovely contrast of plentiful natural light in one room with atmospheric lighting in the interior room (see below), well labelled objects complemented by strong information displays, excellent contextualisation of objects, and a well defined and natural journey through the collection, without feeling overly prescriptive. 

the interior room of the Garstang Museum, with coffin of Userhat. Image courtesy of Julia Thorne. 

the interior room of the Garstang Museum, with coffin of Userhat. Image courtesy of Julia Thorne

What was really striking was how the new galleries highlight the breadth and importance of the collection.  The Garstang has always been an excellent collection, but previously the displays didn't make it so easy to fully appreciate what was on display.  Now, while you'll still see the obligatory mummy and coffin and a canopic jar or four, you can also get an immediate impression of the academic value of the collection, including photographs from the archives which show Professor Garstang at work in Egypt, and a display of his notebooks. Showing the objects alongside archival objects which illustrate the context in which they were found is another way in which the new museum space underlines how important this collection is.  There are some serious treasures in there, and now it's easy to find them for yourself. 

So, many apologies to team Garstang for not visiting sooner, and a huge pair of thumbs up for the department and the volunteers for what they've achieved. This fascinating and rich collection is not only open to the public every Wednesday, it's also an amazing teaching resource that the University makes use of in its degree courses. 

If you're in Liverpool on a Wednesday, go.  If you're planning to visit Liverpool for the reopening of the Ancient Egypt galleries at the World Museum (and we know we are), try to time your visit to allow you to take in the Garstang as well.  It's well worth it. You can follow the Garstang Museum Blog here

Archival image from Meroë - Garstang's shelter over the painted frescoes. Image courtesy of the Garstang Museum blog.

Archival image from Meroë - Garstang's shelter over the painted frescoes. Image courtesy of the Garstang Museum blog.