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Discover our Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Ceramics galleries.
These galleries, dedicated to Ancient Egypt, East Asia and the Art of Ceramics, were the final part a 15-year journey, restoring one of the UK’s finest Victorian buildings, revealing remarkable treasures, and creating inspiring learning experiences to engage more visitors.
The Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery presents the remarkable culture and achievements of the ancient Egyptians, highlighting individual stories to give a sense of their values and personal lives. The displays showcase the depth and breadth of National Museums’ Ancient Egypt material. The galleries opened in 2019, which was the 200th anniversary (May 1819) of the first Egyptian objects becoming part of the collection.
Highlights include the Qurna burial, the only intact royal burial group outside of Egypt, a gold ring said to have belonged to Queen Nefertiti, and a unique double coffin of two half-brothers, Petamun and Penhorpabik.
Female coffin: an exceptionally tall coffin with decoration in the rishi-style. The lid has feathered patterning painted in blue with black details on a yellow ground. The owner’s face is framed by a striped linen nemes-cloth, a beaded collar with falcon terminals, and a vulture-pectoral.
Gold Shebyu collar: consisting of four rows of gold rings threaded on a pad of fibre.
Figurine of a hedghog in a marching pose, made of blue faience with the quills indicated by brown flecks: Ancient Egyptian, Middle Kingdom.
A.1914.1079 Pendant of gold depicting an “upside-down catfish”, with an unknown core (possibly copper alloy) and a ring for suspension in its mouth: Ancient Egyptian, excavated by Petrie in Tomb 72 in Harageh Cemetery A, Late Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, c.1862-1750 BC .
Coffin of the estate overseer Khnumhotep, son of Nebtu, made of wood painted white with three horizontal yellow mummy bands and the face gilded: Ancient Egyptian, from Deir Rifeh, Middle Kingdom, second half of the 12th Dynasty, c.1940-1760 BC.
One of sixteen pottery mould-made shabtis contained in a rectangular shabti box made of wood: Ancient Egyptian, Late Period.
Footboard of wood, from cartonnage coffin or mummy-case, depicting the Apis bull carrying the mummy of the deceased, named as Pamiu, striding over the desert towards a pyramidal tomb: Ancient Egyptian, from Thebes, Upper Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, 22nd Dynasty, Osorkon III, 790-762 BC.
Painted wooden statuette of a ba-bird, with the body in the form of a falcon and the head in human form: Ancient Egyptian, probably from Akhmim, Late Period.
Wreath of twelve gold-foil leaves attached to a ring of copper, found on the mummy of Montsuef: Ancient Egyptian, excavated by A.H. Rhind in the tomb of Montsuef at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Thebes, Early Roman Period, c9 BC.
Statuette in bronze of Osiris, standing mummiform with Atef-crown and sceptres, and with seperate wooden base: Ancient Egyptian, from Saqqara, Lower Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 664-332 BC.
Lid for an anthropoid wooden coffin, plastered and painted, of a child, Tairtsekher, daughter of Irtnefret: Ancient Egyptian, possibly from Deir el-Medina, New Kingdom, early 19th Dynasty, c.1292-1200 BC.
Mummy-mask of gilded and painted linen and plaster cartonnage, depicting Montsuef wearing a lappet-wig: Ancient Egyptian, excavated by A.H. Rhind in the tomb of Montsuef at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Thebes, Early Roman Period, c.9BC.
Votive statuette in the form of an ibis, the body made of calcite and the head and legs of bronze: Ancient Egyptian, Late Period.
Box of cedar wood with ebony veneers and ivory inlays and gilding depicting the god Bes and bearing the cartouches of Amenhotep II: Ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, c.1550-1295 BC.
Double coffin of two half-brothers, Petamun and Penhorpabik: Ancient Egyptian, Upper Egypt, Thebes, late Roman Period, c.175-200 AD.
Gold finger-ring, incised on the top with the name of Queen Nefernefruaten-Nefertiti: Ancient Egyptian, Middle Egypt, Amarna, probably the Royal Tomb, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, c.1353-1336 BC.
National Museums Scotland has one of the most significant East Asia collections in the United Kingdom, representing the three major cultures of the region: China, Japan, and Korea. The Exploring East Asia gallery presents a unique perspective on East Asia, enabling visitors to explore and contrast the diverse traditions, peoples and histories of these three fascinating and dynamic cultures.
Among the highlights are a Chinese lacquerware rice measure from the Ming dynasty, a Japanese woodblock print of the celebrated Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo V, and a rare and important early survival Korean lotus-shaped cup and stand from the 13th century.
Inro or medicine case of mirror-black lacquered wood, with four compartments, decorated with a rising sun and a tortoise in gold: Japan, by Yamada Jokasai, 19th century.
Netsuke of carved ivory, a hare, signed: Japan, by Tomotada.
Cup of stoneware, with a high perforated foot, and a hematite covered interior, excavated in Nara Prefecture, Japan: Korea, Three Kingdoms period, 5th - 6th century AD.
Bowl of imperial yellow glass, one of a pair: China, Qianlong period.
Moon flask of carved red lacquer on a porcelain body, decorated on both sides with a landscape: China, Qing dynasty, late 19th century.
Vase of cloisonne enamel on copper, in colours with fishes among lotus and other aquatic plants, and border of interlocking dragon strapwork design round neck, probable original lid now missing: China, Ming dynasty, 16th century.
Lotus-shaped cup and stand of stoneware, decorated with inlaid designs in white and brown slip under a blue-green glaze: Korea, Goryeo Dynasty, 918 - 1392 AD.
Young woman's robe (furisode), of rep silk with design of maple branches above a festival curtain, outlined with couched gold thread, with padded hem and red silk lining, possibly for wedding ceremony: Japan, 1868-1900.
Painting on silk, Illustration of an Imperial First Rank Concubine's Winter Court Robe No. 2, from the "Huangchao liqi tushi" (Illustrations of Imperial Ritual Paraphernalia): China, Qing dynasty, c. 1760-1766.
Ceramic figure of a happy worker, one of a set of nine figures depicting different Chinese national minorities, the group of six dancers and musicians and three happy workers was intended to show the contentment of the minorities with New China: China, c1960- 65.
Porcelain figure group entitled Looking up to Mao, with brocade-covered storage box: China, Jingdezhen, 1972-74.
Rice measure of carved red, green and brown lacquer, square and decorated with five-clawed dragons in clouds above mountains and sea, with reign mark on base, and with wooden stand: China, Ming Dynasty, Jiajing reign, 1521-1567 AD.
Colour woodblock print entitled Shinagawa, from the series Tokaido gojusan-tsugi no uchi (53 Stations of the Tokaido), with the kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo V as Tonbei the ferryman, from the play Shinrei yaguchi no watashi: Japan, by Utagawa Kunisada, 1852.
Showcasing over 1,200 objects, 40% of which have not been on display in over a generation, these two galleries were created in spaces within the National Museum which were not previously open to the public.
Ceramics are the earliest man-made materials and have been a global artistic medium for around 30,000 years.
Situated next to the Balcony Café, this gallery gives visitors a fascinating insight into the breadth of our outstanding ceramic collections, celebrating the creativity that is reflected in pieces from around the world. As well as the decorative arts, the gallery explores the use of ceramics in scientific and technological applications, and shows how this material has been a key component in global trade and cultural exchange for millennia.
The elaborate fountain in the shape of a citadel is a state-of-the-art product by Moroccan potters, and dates from around 1829.
This 16th-century maiolica dish from Italy shows St Francis of Assisi.
Goblet of ‘Egyptian black’ basalt ware by Delftfield Co, Glasgow - one of the most important pieces of 18th century Scottish pottery.
Early 20th century hand-modelled clay jug from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the form of a high status Mangbetu woman with elaborate hairstyle and body decoration.
Hand-built earthenware figure, Man, by Stephen Bird, Dundee, 2003
Ceramic is used to make this 1994 Intel Pentium microprocessor, which contains 3,200,000 transistors.
Art of Ceramics is generously funded by the Sir James Miller Edinburgh Trust.
Alongside our Ancient Egypt and East Asia galleries, an extensive national programme of activity is extending their reach and impact beyond our walls to museums and audiences across Scotland.
We are supporting and developing knowledge and skills at other museums enabling them to discover and share more about their collections with their local audiences.
A touring exhibition, Discovering Ancient Egypt, is visiting three local museums, with the capacity to incorporate locally held collections into the exhibition, enabling local collections stories to be told.
We are also supporting the development of displays of East Asia collections at our three partner museums, with loans and by helping them to find out more about their own collections.
Thanks to your help we raised the funds required to complete the 15-year long transformation of the National Museum of Scotland. Together we have created a world class museum for visitors to enjoy today, and in the future. This would not have been possible without the donations of hundreds of people and organisations.
On behalf of all of us at the Museum, thank you for being part of the story.
The Ancient Egypt and East Asia galleries and National Programme have been made possible by support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Header image: Assistant Conservator Bethan Bryan works on the Qurna coffin © Stewart Attwood.