From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Museo Egizio is a museum in Turin, Italy, specialising in Egyptian archaeology and anthropology. It houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In 2006 it received 554,911 visitors.
The first object having an association with Egypt to arrive in Turin was the Mensa Isiaca in 1630, an altar table in imitation of Egyptian style, which Dulu Jones suggests had been created for a temple to Isis in Rome. This exotic piece spurred King Carlo Emmanuele III to commission botanist Vitaliano Donati to travel to Egypt in 1753 and acquire items from its past. Donati returned with 300 pieces recovered from Karnak and Coptos, which became the nucleus of the Turin collection.
In 1824, King Carlo Felice acquired the material from the Drovetti collection (5,268 pieces, including 100 statues, 170 papyri, stelae, mummies, and other items), that the French General Consul, Bernardino Drovetti, had built during his stay in Egypt. In the same year, Jean-François Champollion used the huge Turin collection of papyruses to test his breakthroughs in deciphering the hieroglyphic writing. The time Champollion spent in Turin studying the texts is also the origin of a legend about the mysterious disappearance of the "Papiro Regio", that was only later found and of which some portions are still unavailable. In 1950 a parapsychologist was contacted to pinpoint them, to no avail.
In 1833, the collection of Piedmontese Giuseppe Sossio (over 1,200 pieces) was added to the Egyptian Museum. The collection was complemented and completed by the finds of Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli, during his excavation campaigns between 1900 and 1920, further filled out the collection. Its last major acquisition was the small tempe of Ellesiya, which the Egyptian government presented to Italy for her assistance during the Nubian monument salvage campaign in the 1960s.
Through all these years, the Egyptian collection has always been in Turin, in the building projected for the purpose of housing it, in Via Accademia delle Scienze 6. Only during the Second World War was some of the material moved to the town of Agliè. The museum became an experiment of the Italian government in privatization of the nation's museums when the Fondazione Museo delle Antichità Egizie was officially established at the end of 2004. The building itself was remodeled in celebration of the 2006 Winter Olympics, with its main rooms redesigned by Dante Ferretti, and "featured an imaginative use of lighting and mirrors in a spectacular display of some of the most important and impressive Pharaonic statues in the museum collection."
- Assemblea dei Re (Kings Assembly) a term originally indicating a collection of statues representing all the kings of the New Kingdom.
- Temple of Tuthmosi III
- Sarcophagi, mummies and books of the dead originally belonging to the Drovetti collection.
- A painting on canvas dated at about 3500 BC (found in 1931)
- Funerary paraphernalia from the Tomba di Ignoti (Tomb of Unknown) from the Old Kingdom
- Tomb of Kha and of Merit, found intact by Schiaparelli and transferred in toto in the museum
- Papyrus collection room, originally collected by Drovetti and later used by Champollion during his studies for the decoding of the hieroglyphics.
- Mensa Isiaca (The Table of Isis)
- Tomba Dipinta (The Painted Tomb) usually closed to the public.
- The Turin King List (or Turin Royal Canon)
The Egyptian Museum owns three different versions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, including the most ancient copy known. An integral illustrated version and the personal copy of the First Royal Architect Kha, found by Schiaparelli in 1906 are normally shown to the public. On more than one occasion the director of the Museum was asked to remove the two copies of the book on display and stock them in a deep and dark basement, always for strictly esoteric reasons (as the papyrus emanates "negative energy").Template:Citation needed At the time of writing, none of these requests appears to have been put into practice.
- Egyptian Museum
- Grand Egyptian Museum
- Egyptian Museum of Berlin
- List of museums with major collections of Egyptian antiquities