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Laser cleaning the Petrie Museum’s plaster cast bust of Amelia Edwards

Lisa Randisi15 April 2020

This week’s blog is written by Graeme McArthur, from our conservation team.

Our museum of Egyptology may be named after Flinders Petrie but it owes a large debt of gratitude to Amelia Edwards. She travelled to Egypt in 1873 for some winter sun and returned a dedicated campaigner for the preservation of Egyptian heritage. On her death in 1892 she left her own collection to UCL and left an endowment for a Chair in Egyptian Archaeology and Philology. The wording all but ensured that the job would go to Petrie. He also gave his collection to UCL in 1915 and the museum was born.

A bust of Amelia Edwards was sculpted by Percival Ball in around 1873 and is held by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 929). A plaster copy was made for the Department of Egyptology at UCL by the British Museum in 1961 and thus ended up in the Petrie’s collection (LDUCE-UC80677).

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The Edwards Museum

uczcast4 March 2015

The Petrie Museum takes its name from famed archaeologist Flinders Petrie. It’s all too easy, therefore, to fall into the habit of always celebrating him – all  ‘Petrie this’ and ‘Petrie that’ – as if he somehow toiled alone, a heroic pioneer. The fact is, he built his career with the support and labour of others. ‘His’ Museum would not be here at all were it not for Amelia Blanford Edwards (1831–1892). So on International Women’s Day this year we celebrate our true founder .

This Girl Can. Plaster bust of Amelia Edwards in the entrance to the Petrie Museum

This Girl Can. Plaster cast bust of Amelia Edwards in the entrance to the Petrie Museum

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The Edwards Museum of Egyptian Archaeology?

Debbie J Challis15 March 2011

Last week the Petrie Museum had a packed house to honour Amelia Edwards with a mesmerizing performance by Kim Hicks. The actress captivAmelia Night 014ated the audience with poise and a bit of humor through her monologues and readings of Edwards’ travel tales. It took place to mark International Women’s Day.

It also marked the re-display of the cast of a bust of Amelia Edwards in the  entrance of the Petrie Museum, in front of an image of her study kindly supplied by Somerville College Oxford. Amelia Edwards was a prolific novelist whose ‘sensation’ novels and ghost stories make Wilkie Collins (Woman in White or The Moonstone) look like a trembling violet. (more…)