Contemporary Art and the Display of Ancient Egypt

Alice Stevenson


ISBN: 9781800087552

Publication: January 23, 2025

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Artistic interventions are now a popular means of delivering fresh perspectives on museum displays, including in galleries devoted to ancient Egypt. There is a common refrain that installations put the past and present ‘into dialogue’ with each other and offer external critical voices on the work of decolonisation.

Contemporary Art and the Display of Ancient Egypt argues that the contemporary and the ancient do not necessarily inform each other, and are instead mediated by and mediations of the museum that produces them. Rather than explore how artists have been inspired by Egypt, this book examines how contemporary artists have shaped the language and discourse around the study of the Egyptian past by looking at the wider field of public display in which both have been historically situated. Building on this critical history of practice, the book draws from three case studies of experiments in bringing contemporary artistic sculptures, conceptual pieces, multi-media films, sounds, smells and performances into galleries: the British Museum in London, the Egyptian Museum in Turin and the State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich. These are used to explore what contemporary art does in these spaces, the motivations for inviting artists in, and the legacies of those interventions. It culminates in a reflection upon developing a productive ground for dialogues between artists and Egyptologists, how academics and curators can be involved in the creative process and how artists contribute to academic research.

Alice Stevenson is Professor of Museum Archaeology at UCL Institute of Archaeology

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1 Juxtapositions: a historical perspective

2 Artists in twenty-first-century galleries of ancient Egypt

3 Contemporary art and the British Museum

4 Contemporary art and the Museo Egizio

5 Contemporary art and the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst

6 Inspiration, intervention or interdisciplinarity?

Appendix A List of interventions discussed in text


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

204 Pages

33 Fig + 1 Table

Copyright: © 2025

ISBN: 9781800087552

Publication: January 23, 2025

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