To Have and to Heal

Manchester Museum’s has launched a new innovative project which aims to reach new audiences with its ancient Egyptian collections in a physically distanced world.

‘To Have and to Heal’ is an innovative programme, supported by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which seeks both to reconnect with current audiences and reach new audiences, whilst maximising engagement with Manchester Museum’s world-class Egyptology collections in response to the new context of physical distancing.

This project will use the Egyptology collections as the starting point to provide inspiration and meaningful support to groups and organisations that have been heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic; especially those at risk of social isolation.

The Egyptian and Sudanese collections are some of the most popular at Manchester Museum, and the exceptional public appeal of ancient Egypt extends across all audiences and age groups. Throughout lockdown, it was important to maintain access to the awe and wonder of these collections, and one of the Museum’s most popular responses to the COVID-19 crisis has been the Egyptology in Lockdown LIVE broadcasts by Curator Dr Campbell Price. Inspired by the overwhelming response to this online programme, the museum is developing a model of blended digital and onsite engagement. It is anticipated that this programme will make a significant contribution towards community recovery, healing and resilience.

‘To Have and to Heal’ is all about encouraging meaningful and emotional engagement. Exploring the themes of death and afterlife in ancient Egypt will be a creative and sensitive starting point to encourage personal reflection on experiences of the pandemic and begin conversations regarding mourning and loss. The programme will draw on the support and expertise of health care professionals.

Participating organisations will take part in a bespoke online session, which will include video highlights of the museum’s collection, real-time Q&As with Curator Campbell Price, live-streamed tours of the Egyptology stores and potentially global interactions with curatorial colleagues in Egypt and Sudan. As part of the project, the Museum is commissioning new photography of little-known parts of the collections in order to share objects with people in innovative and dynamic ways.

The way that museums and galleries connect with their audiences has changed dramatically over the last 8 months. This new, blended, approach to public engagement will equip the Museum with a new model that will deepen and enhance engagement with our audiences in our physically distanced world.

While Manchester Museum is currently closed following the latest government guidance, there is a wealth of resources, activities and events on MMfromHome.