UK museum news: Jorvik Viking Centre celebrates milestone and Manchester Museum reopens

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

Mummies mark Manchester Museum’s reopening

Manchester Museum is set to reopen, following a £15 million transformation, on 18 February 2023.

IMAGE: Julia Thorne

Its relaunch will feature a major new exhibition exploring beliefs about the afterlife during the Graeco-Roman period of Egyptian history (332 BC-AD 395). This period is less well understood than earlier episodes of the ancient Egyptian past, but Manchester Museum is home to particularly strong collections reflecting these centuries, the results of excavations at Hawara by the Victorian archaeologist Flinders Petrie.

Golden Mummies of Egypt will feature eight gilded mummies and more than 100 artefacts, including the famous ‘Faiyum Portraits’ – painted mummy panels dating to the Roman period – in the Exhibition Hall, the museum’s new dedicated display space. Key themes include the meaning behind mummification, and how interpretation of artefacts was influenced by their Victorian excavators’ views on race, gender, social hierarchy, and death; the exhibition also draws on new research by Manchester Museum’s Curator of Egypt and Sudan, Dr Campbell Price.

The exhibition will run for at least six months; see www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/upcomingexhibitions/goldenmummies for more details.

Jorvik Viking Centre celebrates 20 million visitors

Jorvik Viking Centre has welcomed its 20 millionth visitor since the York-based attraction (which showcases the Viking Age discoveries made during the Coppergate excavations of 1976-1981; see CA 58) opened in the 1980s. The milestone (represented by the Logie family from Edinburgh) was reached just days after the organisation behind Jorvik’s creation, York Archaeological Trust, celebrated its 50th birthday.

The team behind the attraction are also planning to explore York’s Roman history: planning permission has been granted for ‘The Roman Quarter’, which will include a two-year archaeological dig and the creation of a Roman-themed visitor attraction and museum called Eboracum (the Roman name for York) on Rougier Street. For more information on Jorvik Viking Centre, see www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk.

National Museums Scotland acquires rare pommel

IMAGE: National Museums Scotland

National Museums Scotland (NMS) has acquired an exceptionally rare gold sword pommel, dating to c.AD 700 and discovered near Blair Drummond in Stirlingshire.

Crafted in solid gold, its exterior is adorned with garnets and complex goldwork incorporating religious motifs and stylised beasts. Its decorations combine elements from Anglo-Saxon England and early medieval Scotland, and it is one of the first of its kind found in Scotland.

The pommel was found by a metal-detectorist and declared to the Treasure Trove unit in accordance with Scottish law. It was subsequently allocated to NMS by the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel. For more information on Treasure Trove, see https://treasuretrovescotland.co.uk; for more details of the law in England and Wales, see www.finds.org.uk/treasure.  

New exhibitions

Medieval Britain in Colour: 500 years of illuminated manuscripts

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Until 22 January 2023

Voices of the Red Wall St Fagans National Museum of History

Until 17 April 2023 
http://www.museum.wales/stfagans/whatson/11774/ Voices-of-The-Red-Wall

‘All Mortal Greatness is but Disease’ Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine

Until 19 February 2023

Last chance to see

Blitzed: Liverpool lives

Museum of Liverpool
Until 2 January 2023

The Lost King: imagining Richard III

Wallace Collection, London
Until 8 January 2023

Brought to Light: the remarkable Bateman Collection

Weston Park Museum, Sheffield
Until 15 January 2023

Re-collecting Empire

Wardlaw Museum, University of St Andrews
Until 22 October