The Poetics of Egyptian Museum Practice

W. Doyon

This essay examines the conceptual development of Egyptian museums from the mid-nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. It is particularly concerned with the narrative themes and poetic structures through which colonial and postcolonial identities have been negotiated in modern Egypt. Over the past 150 years, Egyptian museum display has retained much of its traditional architecture based on Victorian aesthetics, but a new archaeological narrative has emerged in the past 50 years that redefines the colonial characterization of Egypt. This narrative integrates the full span of Egyptian history into a single identity, and in so doing it joins the independent present to the indigenous past.  To contextualize the Egyptian museum condition, day-to-day museology and issues of audience are also addressed, and a directory to the complete museums of Egypt is included.

The original material for this paper was gathered with the support of an Associateship at the American Research Center in Egypt in 2005-2006 and presented as the author’s M.A. thesis in Museology at the University of Washington in 2007, under the title Presenting Egypt’s Past: Archaeology and Identity in Egyptian Museum Practice.

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To reference this article we suggest:

Doyon, W., 'The Poetics of Egyptian Museum Practice’, BMSAES 10 (2008), 1–37
www.britishmuseum.org/research/online_journals/bmsaes/issue_10/doyon.aspx

Contact the author
wendy.doyon@binghamton.edu