Green siltstone head of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, 1479 - 1457 BC, from Karnak, which will feature in the exhibition. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Find an object facilitates BM partnership with Dorset County Museum

Geraldine Kendall, 21.06.2011
Collaboration could herald a 'new model of partnership'
A last-minute slot for the British Museum’s (BM) Pharaoh: King of Egypt touring exhibition, which was advertised on the Museums Association’s Find an object facility earlier this year, has been filled by Dorset County Museum.

The slot became available after one of the BM's partner museums had to drop out at short notice. In a novel use of the MA’s Find an object facility, the BM invited museums of every size and type to apply to host the exhibition.

The BM and the MA collaborated to draw up criteria for potential hosts, and the MA acted as independent advisor on the final decision.

The successful applicant, Dorset County Museum, is an independent museum owned and managed by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society with support from local councils. It is one of the smallest museums with whom the BM has entered into partnership.

Requiring around 400 square metres, the exhibition will take up a significant part of the building’s floorspace, and the museum has had to advertise for additional display cases. It has also mooted drawing on the support of the local army to provide security for the objects.

The touring exhibition is organised through the BM’s Partnership UK scheme. It will be the largest UK loan of Ancient Egyptian artefacts ever undertaken by the BM, featuring sculpture, jewellery, palace ornamentation, papyri and funerary objects.

A Dorset County Museum spokesperson described the exhibition as “the biggest thing to happen to us”.

The BM's head of London and national programmes, John Orna-Ornstein, said the BM had wanted to make the exhibition available to the “widest possible range of museums”.

He said: “We wanted to push ourselves and we worked with the MA to try and find the place where it would have the greatest impact.”

Orna-Ornstein said that the process of inviting museums to proactively apply to host the exhibition could signify a “new model of partnership”, especially in the current economic climate.

“We’re learning more about what a partner museum needs,” he said. “It’s not just about lending but about sharing expertise and advocating together.”

MA collections coordinator Sally Cross said: “Advertising the exhibition was a good test of how we can use Find an Object, and we’re keen to investigate more how we can build up the use of the listing service for loans as well as disposals.”

Click here to search the MA's Find an Object database