On March 8th, International Woman’s Day is celebrating its centenary, and the Petrie Museum is joining in by honouring Victorian writer Amelia Edwards, for without her, there may have never have been a ‘Petrie Museum’.
Amelia Edwards was a novelist and travel writer, as well as an Egyptologist. After visiting for the first time in Egypt 1873, she wrote a vivid account of her adventure in A Thousand Miles up the Nile. She was the driving force behind the establishment of the Egypt Exploration Fund (now the EES) in 1882 to promote the scientific exploration of Egypt and its monuments.
With the help of Flinders Petrie, she started her own private Egyptology teaching collection. I’m not Egyptologist, I’m not archaeologist, but I want my own bequest, my money to go somewhere, where I could have studied myself, she said.
When she died in 1892, Amelia Edwards left her large collection to UCL, as at the time, it was the only university to award degrees to women. These items, several hundred Egyptian antiquities, as well as her library of books, photographs and other documents concerning ancient Egypt, now form the core of the Petrie Museum. She also left funds to create Britain’s first professorship in Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at UCL, held first by Flinders Petrie.
To honour Amelia Edwards contributions, on March 8th, the Petrie Museum will install a bust of Amelia Edwards, and an image of her study, at its entrance. This will be followed by a performance in the museum of ‘Hers was the Earth…’, a one-woman show by Kim Hicks about the extraordinary life of Amelia Edwards.
The Petrie Museum might just be London’s best concealed treasure, so why not combine celebrating women’s achievements with your own little adventure and discovering (hint!) a hidden gem?
‘International Womens Day the Petrie Museum honours Amelia Edwards’ starts at 6 pm, on Tuesday March 8th 2011. Tickets are 10 for Friends and 12 for non-Friends. To book, and for more information, see the Petrie Museum website, or mail the PMF’s secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Directions: I strongly advice against starting at the UCL main entrance at Gower Street and trying to find your way through the university building(s), unless you want to ‘discover’ the two Coptos Lions brought from Egypt by Flinders Petrie. The lions can be found before the Provost’s Office at University College London, near the embalmed body of Jeremy Bentham (to then get to the Petrie museum,follow these instructions, from (5) to (7)). But the quickest way to access the museum, is definitely via Torrington Place.