Egypt has long been a source of fascination and research for people around the world. The pyramids, the pharaohs and the hieroglyphics have kept archaeologists and audiences enraptured for centuries. Whether you’re a kid with dreams of being an Egyptologist or an adult who has spent hours reading about the ancient history of the Nile, you’ve probably looked for museums with Egyptian collections before.
These museums contain the largest Egyptian collections in the world, spread out across the planet. Many of the collections were established in the 19th century during the height of Egyptomania when Westerners turned their eyes to the past for everything from architecture to fashion inspiration. Egyptian artifact collections were centerpieces of universities, museums, homes, and international expositions.
The Largest Egyptian Collections
Egyptian Museum – Cairo
With over 100,000 objects in its collection, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts and archaeological material anywhere in the world. The museum was originally created in the early 19th century as interest in Egypt’s past grew around the world. It currently houses some of the most important collections in the world. While the museum was broken into and damaged in 2011, the museum is now currently reopened to the public.
Grand Egyptian Museum – Giza
The Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza is a massive new museum complex being built close to the site of the pyramids. The museum will include the collection of King Tutankhamun, Ramses II, and a number of the most important Egyptian archaeological collections in the world. Estimated to have cost over half a billion dollars, the museum is on track to be the largest archaeological museum in the world and is set to open in 2018.
British Museum – London
Outside of Egypt, there are few collections that rival the British Museum in London. Having gathered thousands of artifacts throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and as the recipient of the Wendorf collection in the early 2000s, the British Museum has made a name for itself in collecting World History, with Egypt chief among the ancient history its known for. The highlight of the collection is the famous Rosetta Stone, the key that unlocked the code of hieroglyphics and our understanding of Egypt’s past.
Egyptian Museum – Berlin
The Egyptian Museum is part of the Neues Museum in Berlin which resides on Berlin’s Museum Island and contains a number of Egyptian artifacts. Much like the collections in the British Museum and Louvre, the collections in the museum in Berlin are vast and were founded on 19th century collections gathered during the height of Egyptomania in Europe. The museum is home to the famous bust of Nefertiti, which has been contested by Egypt.
Louvre – Paris
The Louvre’s collection of Egyptian archaeology and artifacts was founded in the 19th century. While not a direct consequence of Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt, the spur Egyptomania throughout this period created more research and interest in the topic. In the 1820s, Champollion – the man that would be credited with finally cracking the code of hieroglyphics with the assistance of the Rosetta Stone and the scholars who came before him, became the curator of the Louvre’s new wing on Egyptian history. The collection continued to grow throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and has become one of the largest collections in Europe alongside the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. From oil lamps to amulets, the collection is vast.
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology – London
While the museum includes a number of other collections, the primary collection is that of the namesake – William Flinders Petrie. An archaeologist and professor, Petrie is largely credited with professionalizing the field of archaeology and revolutionizing Egyptology. The collection at the Petrie museum claims some of the oldest and rarest objects ever found in Egypt, and is open to researchers.
Museum of Fine Arts – Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is also well known for its Egyptian collections. The Egyptian Art collection in Boston contains a wide variety of Egyptian art and artifacts, including objects uncovered by the famous French archaeologist Auguste Mariette and the sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut.
Other museums with large Egyptian artifact collections:
- Kelsey Museum of Archaeology – Ann Arbor, MI
- University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
- Ashmolean Museum – Oxford
- Museum Egizio – Turin
- Oriental Institute – Chicago
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York
- Royal Ontario Museum – Toronto
- Hearst Museum of Anthropology – Berkeley
- Fitzwilliam Museum – Cambridge