Switzerland's biggest collection of Egyptian antiquities is once again on view to the public. The Basel antiquities museum has just completed a three-year, SFr4.1 million ($2.3 million) extension of its exhibition space.
Visitors will get to see not only the museum's pieces, but also works of art from other private and public collections, such as statues from the British Museum. Almost two thirds of the displayed material comes from outside collections.
Egyptology has been of interest to the Swiss for over 100 years. Many ancient objects made their way to Switzerland with tourists who visited Egypt in the late 19th century.
But travellers weren't the only source of material. "Many Swiss museums have had Egyptian works of art in their store-rooms for over a century," said André Wiese, curator of the Egyptian collection.
Just one example is the cantonal archaeological and historical museum in Lausanne. The curators there bought a large number of Egyptian pieces in France during the 1860s, but never bothered to exhibit them.
Much of the display in Basel is made up of small objects and craft work. But 16 larger statues have been loaned by the British Museum to complete the exhibition.
The Basel collection covers 5,000 years of Egyptian history from 4,000 B.C. to the Greek-Roman times. The objects are displayed over 600 square metres in four rooms, which separate them according to their period.
"The new Egyptian section means heightened national and international prestige for the antiquities museum," said Peter Blome, the museum's director. He is hoping the new attraction will increase the number of visitors.
To attract locals and tourists alike, a tram with an Egyptian paint scheme will be running from the railway station to the museum for the next six months.
swissinfo with agencies
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