Museum news: the latest on UK exhibitions and acquisitions

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

New light on Nubia

New research centred on one of the highlights of the National Museum of Scotland’s Egyptian collections has shed illuminating light on Nubia, ancient Egypt’s nearest southern neighbour.

The Qurna burial – the intact and richly furnished grave of a woman and a child – was discovered at Qurna, Thebes, in 1908. Among the more than 100 objects recovered from the burial were six beakers from Kerma, a kingdom in Nubia (part of what is now Sudan), and at the time of the excavation these were used to argue that the woman was a Nubian princess who had married into the Theban royal family, due to contemporary colonial views that no ancient Egyptian would choose to be buried with Nubian objects. Since then, however, a very different picture of Kerma has emerged: far from being culturally and politically subservient to Egypt, it was a wealthy and powerful kingdom with its own unique culture.

IMAGE: National Museums Scotland

Now the first major reassessment of the grave goods since their excavation – led by NMS curator Dr Margaret Maitland – has revealed further evidence of rich cultural connections between Egypt and Kerma. These findings will be discussed in greater detail during Ancient African Queens: New Perspectives on Black History, an online panel discussion that will be held on 27 October as part of Black History Month. See ‘Exhibitions, events, and heritage from home across the UK‘ for more details.

Anglo-Saxon artefacts at Ad Gefrin

A series of objects from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria and further afield have been selected to go on display at Ad Gefrin, a new cultural experience opening near Wooler, Northumberland, in February 2023 (see CA 382).

The attraction, which also includes a whisky distillery, draws on archaeological evidence from the nearby early medieval royal site of Yeavering, and the selected artefacts include the Castle Eden Claw Beaker – one of the best-preserved surviving pieces of Anglo-Saxon glasswork, and a highlight of the British Museum’s early medieval collections – which will return to the North East for the first time in 32 years. Also among the items (which have been chosen in a collaboration between Dr Chris Ferguson, Director of Visitor Experience at Ad Gefrin, and Dr Sue Brunning, Curator of European Early Medieval Collections at the British Museum) are a pseudo-Roman coin pendant, a silver wrist-clasp, and a high-quality replica of the Franks Casket from the British Museum, while the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is also loaning a great square-headed brooch and a shield boss from Warwickshire (once part of the kingdom of Mercia). See http://www.adgefrin.co.uk for more details.

Brontë room opens at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

A new permanent exhibition has opened at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester, exploring the author and campaigner’s role in Victorian society, and how she and her daughters were involved in the early trade union movement, supported soup kitchens, and met and corresponded with the leading reformers, writers and artists of the time.

Supported by the AIM Biffa Award History Makers grant, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, the new Brontë Room (named after Charlotte Brontë, who stayed at the house on several occasions and probably slept in this room) includes interactive screens, a newly commissioned film, and an interactive dressing table that uses touch and sound to transport visitors to Elizabeth’s preparations to attend the 1857 Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is open every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 11am to 4.30pm. See https://elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk for more details.

New exhibitions

The Afterlife of Mary Queen of Scots
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow
14 October 2022-5 February 2023

Executions Museum of London Docklands
14 October 2022-16 April 2023

Visions of Ancient Egypt Sainsbury Centre, Norwich
Until 1 January 2023

Alexander the Great: the Making of a Myth British Library, London
21 October 2022-19 February 2023

Lindisfarne Gospels Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
Until 3 December 2022

Last chance to see

Anatomy: a Matter of Death and Life
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
Until 30 October 2022

Swords of Kingdoms: the Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
Until 16 October 2022