A scarab showed up at the museum…

A winged scarab showed up at the Museum on Monday afternoon… the cute little faience thing is a short-term loan related to the upcoming exhibition Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s.   As you can guess from the title, the show is about vintage automobiles and you might wonder how on earth that is connected to Egyptology.

Unbelievable as though it may seem, there is a connection about the cars and Egyptology.  One of the automobiles is a 1936 Stout Scarab that features on its hood a spectacular Egyptian winged scarab. Imagine that, the car is actually painted turquoise, so it even looks like a faience scarab! (I’ll talk more about this car in a later post.) As the NCMA does not have a collection of decorative arts (from any period) and none of the artists represented in our modern art section did not work in the art deco style, the only connection between the exhibition and the permanent collection is the Egyptian scarab.  (Who knew?!)  We have two scarabs represented on two artefacts in the Egyptian collection–one painted on the top of head of Amunred’s coffin, the other carved in the pectoral of Golden Boy’s gilded cartonnage.  I want to show a scarab amulet so visitors could see the scarab as an object in and of itself, not just a decorative motif, so I borrowed one for a few months.(It’s been up for just a few days and security guards have told me that people are very excited about it and find the connection with the car show very amusing!)  I’ll talk more about scarabs later… and I’ll add illustrations as well.

I’d like to thanks Nicole B. for sharing her photo of a faience bead net that incorporates a winged scarab amulet. (It’s the photo on the left on the label.)  This helps understand what these scarab amulets were used for. Also, a big thank you to the generous lender for sending his wonderful little scarab on a trip to the museum.

The future of gallery teaching

This morning, I was in the NCMA’s Egyptian galleries teaching a class of students at Havelock High School (which is about 2 and half hours east of Raleigh)… using our very nifty SECU mobile distance learning cart.  The class had already 3D-printed a replica of the Amulet of Isis and Horus (which we scanned back in February) but they could see the original in the vitrine next to me as I talked about it.

We also chatted about Nehebkau (another amulet) and one of the school groups visiting the galleries with their art teacher stopped to listen to me… and then photobombed the lesson when they realised I was actually talking to other high school kids. It was hilarious… everyone was waving at each other… and Emily and I were laughing. Yes, ancient Egypt is that fun!

Thanks, Emily, for taking the pictures and manning the cart!

Egyptology, distance learning and Walter Magazine

A short article appeared in Walter Magazine about a distance learning project I have been working on at the Museum with my colleague Emily K. in the Education department.  Emily is the one developing the programme and my role is to provide content for these fantastic learning opportunities… the Egyptian collection has great material!

Emily and I had been discussing for a while, but it all really started in February when we went to the Hunt Library at NC State University. Tom, our chief art handler, joined us to pack and safely manipulate the objects for us and my car served as the artefact-mobile to get us to the university, where we met up with Adam Rogers to have two faïence amulets 3D scanned. We had great fun and it was a learning experience even for us! (Thank you, Adam!) I’m including some photos of the scanning session below, but read the article to find out what we do with these scans of the Amulet of Nehebkau and the Amulet of Isis and Horus!