Five thousand years of history brought up to date


An extensive Egyptology collection not seen for a generation will be back on show in Sefton at the end of October. The Goodison Collection will be on permanent public display from 24 October at The Atkinson, Southport.

Artefacts, dating from 3,000 BC to 200 AD, will be housed in a purpose built interactive gallery space where the ancient meets the modern. Visitors young and old are invited to travel back in time and experience what life was like in ancient Egypt.

Four central themes of life in Egyptian times will be explored: ritual, everyday life, beauty and communication.

In the beauty area, young fashionistas can sit at their own dressing table and try on clothes and wigs, whilst they have their make up done like an ancient Egyptian. Complete the experience by sampling some historical perfumes and find out whether the Egyptians ponged.

Whilst in the ritual section, a judgement scene invites visitors to weigh model human hearts to discover whether their owners had been good or bad. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart contained vital clues as to how a person lived their life. If a heart did not balance with the symbolic feather of Maat, the deceased was denied an afterlife.

Between 200 objects – including pottery, amulets, figurines, jewellery, shoes, children’s toys and moulds – will be on display at any one time.

One of the stars of the 1,000 piece collections is a ba-bird, a brightly coloured feathered bird with a human head. Ba roughly translates as spirit. A wooden ba-bird was placed on top of a coffin or shrine to allow the deceased person’s spirit to gain mobility.

Jo Chamberlain, documentation officer, The Atkinson, said: “He looks a bit like a budgie with big feet – and our specimen is unfortunately missing part of one of his wings – but he’s no comedy character. The ba-bird had a very important job and was responsible for looking after what made you ‘you’. He could leave the coffin and then return, acting as a spiritual messenger and bringing the deceased sustenance”.

The bird’s frequent flyer credentials made him the perfect candidate for an exhibition guide and his chirpy, lopsided form is a familiar motif around the gallery.

The permanent exhibition is housed in Southport’s new home for music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history. The Atkinson’s stunning 19th century buildings – in the very centre of Southport – have benefited from significant investment and have a strong contemporary feel.

Entry is free of charge.

History of The Goodison Collection

The Goodison Collection have been in storage since 1974 when the Bootle Free Museum and Art Gallery closed.

Bootle Museum was gifted the collections by a local man called Mr T. Davies. The benefactor had himself purchased the extensive collections from George Goodison, a civil engineer and local landowner, after whom Everton FC’s ground was named.

The collections had originally belonged to his wife, the adventurer Anne Goodison. Anne brought them back from Egypt in the late 1800s, long before the days of Howard Carter and Tutankhamun. Originally housed in her own museum room at their beach front home near Crosby, her husband had no interest in the artefacts and sold them after her demise, aged 61, in 1906.

Little is known of Mrs Goodison, who was born Anne Padley in West Derby, Merseyside, in 1845, married George aged 22 and had no children. So far no pictures of her have been uncovered.

For more information and opening times, please visit The Atkinson website or call the box office on 01704 533333.




OTS News