Ashmolean Museum – Transforming the Egyptian Galleries

A particularly demanding project to improve access to the Ashmolean Museum’s Egyptian galleries of ancient Egypt and Sudan required John Sheehan (Oxford) Limited to overcome some enormous challenges.


The Shrine of Taharqa is 2700 years old and is totally freestanding; constructed from blocks of light-coloured sandstone carved in raised relief, it was recreated in the museum in the 1930’s. Due to its delicate structure, it cannot be moved. Enclosed by four structural openings, the shrine was in the centre of the building works. John Sheehan (Oxford) Limited were commissioned to protect each entrance by propping up walls and ceilings both above and below the shrine before demolition could take place. 


The task was then to enlarge the existing openings between galleries to create a feeling of space and to provide more room around larger objects, enabling visitors to fully appreciate and enjoy their individuality and beauty. This required cutting solid concrete walls and inserting the necessary steel works, whilst ensuring the protection of the museums famous artefacts. 


A specifically designed provisional structure was constructed to hang over the shine to protect it completely from the adjacent construction work and related vibration and moisture. The new openings created link the rooms, presenting the collections under the broad themes of Egypt at its Origins; Dynastic Egypt and Nubia; Life after Death in Ancient Egypt; The Amarna ‘Revolution’; Egypt in the Age of Empires; and Egypt meets Greece and Rome. 


The Ashmolean Museum can now redisplay the world-renowned Egyptian collections to exhibit objects that have been in storage for decades, more than doubling the number of mummies and coffins on display

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