International Museum Day

Did you know that since 1977 museums are celebrated internationally each year on or around May 18. International Museum Day was declared by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in order to raise awareness in the fact that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” (As quoted from the IMD page on the ICOM website.)

In 2015, the theme of IMD is “museums for a sustainable society.”

Egyptology Seminar 2015

I was rather quiet this week as I decided to stay away from my computer and rest after spending an entire month working on my Egyptology seminar. And by an entire month, I mean working every weekday—often late in the evening—and every weekend. When I work on PowerPoint presentations, I need to devote good chunks of time to them, not just a few minutes here and there, in between meetings and other little tasks. This means working when there are fewer colleagues around and/or not even signing into one’s email account (which normally results in receiving phone calls from colleagues when you don’t respond to urgent messages).

The theme of this year’s seminar was daily life in ancient Egypt as depicted on tomb walls from the Old Kingdom to the early New Kingdom (Eighteenth Dynasty until the reign of Amenhotep III, after which decorative schemes change significantly). There is more than meets the eye on those decorated tomb walls! I prepared four different lectures focusing on this theme, starting with the construction of a tomb. (Can’t decorate a tomb if you don’t have a tomb!) We looked at what goes on at a nobleman’s estate, family life and personal affairs, and the relationship between the Egyptians and their environment, specifically related to fauna. (The Egyptians were very keen observers of nature and this is illustrated in their tombs.) I did not explore Egypt’s flora as this will be the topic of the Weinberg Lecture of Egyptology next week.

The day-long seminar included an Egypt-inspired lunch and a baklava reception, where a lovely tea and hibiscus syrup concoction was also served. There even was a flower at the bottom of the cup! Quite delicious! I believe it was the signature drink for the Art in Bloom event mentioned in previous posts.

I went home rather tired at the end of the day; however, I was happy that the participants really enjoyed themselves and want to do it again next year… with a different theme, of course! Now, I’m taking advantage of the long Easter weekend to charge my batteries…

Women in Science

Today, I participated in the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s Women in Science spring conference, which was held at the Museum.  The GSK Foundation funds and mentors female students enrolled in science programmes in North Carolina.  I gave a tour entitled ‘Ancient Art, New Science: When Curatorial Research Meets Materials Analysis,’ which  was a special tour of the ancient art galleries that focused on the scientific analyses we have been conducting over the last few months.

I was delighted to be asked and I said yes immediately because I feel I owe so much to GSK: I started out at the museum practically 10 years ago as GlaxoSmithKline Curatorial Fellow and GSK later funded position and my research on the Egyptian collection as well as the publication of the catalogue. GSK’s support of the Museum’s curatorial research (conducted by fellows who are ABD doctoral students or recent PhDs) over the years has been tremendous. I’m beyond grateful to GSK…

My tour included Bacchus, which was brought from the conservation lab for this special occasion, Hercules, the Celestial god or hero and the Egyptian Head of a deity.  As you can imagine, I talked about UVF, VIL, IRR, pXRF, marble sampling and thermoluminescence. The participants seem to have greatly enjoyed the visit because I got many interested questions, enthusiastic comments and requests for my business card. A few hours of my time was the least I could do for a foundation that’s been so generous to me and the Museum. It was a fun and enriching day…

Art in Bloom (Greece and Rome)

Continuing with on my floral and spring theme, today I present the four floral arrangements that were in the Classical galleries.  These cover more square footage than the Egyptian space and more floral designs could be incorporated.

Inspired by Aphrodite of Cyrene
Floral design by Carol Inskeep

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Photographing against a sunny background is not ideal, but you see Aphrodite as an elegant silhouette. Placed behind her was an arrangement of white orchids coming out of glass vessel placed in a square container with blue glass pebbles…   just like the beautiful goddess emerging from the sea! I thought this design very witty and elegant. (My fave of those in the Classical galleries.)

Inspired by Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess
Floral design by Gene Harbaugh

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

This design is well paired with the bronze female head, especially in terms of colour. It is simple, elegant and feminine, but not overly so. A sort of wreath. Yet, the squat bouquet leaves me wanting more…



Inspired by a Greek Hydria
Floral design by Sally Robinson

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

This one left me thoughtful… the dried flowers were an interesting component playing with the earth-tone colours of the ceramics in the gallery.  However, the fact that a hydria is a jar used specifically for carrying water is lost (although the vase was the colour of the seas).



Inspired by Herakles
Floral design by Jinny Marino

Flowers for Herakles

Flowers for Herakles

Interestingly, the use of the anthurium, a plant with a rather phallic red spadix, brings a touch of masculinity to the arrangement. Well, it is inspired by a statue of Herakles, a very burly one at that!  The added metal elements make reference to the Herculean strength of our marble man. Pun intended.  Herakles is the Greek version of Hercules.

I have come to the conclusion that my favourite floral arrangements at Art in Bloom were simple with crisp and elegant vertical lines; very contemporary looking.  Enjoy the arrival of spring!

La Vida Aegyptiaca

On this Memorial Day long weekend, I have spent a few minutes writing a post for my blog on the SSEA website, La Vida Aegyptiaca.  If you go read that blog entry, you’ll find out why my Dad took this photo and what has occupied me at work for the last few weeks.

Mum and I posing in front of the Sacred Motherhood title wall

Mum and I posing in front of the Sacred Motherhood title wall (photo taken by Dad).

NCMA’s Archaeology Lab in the ‘paper’

On March 8, I posted a couple of images of the Museum’s first Archaeology Lab, where participants could handle and study Greek, Cypriot, Roman and Etruscan objects. Well, would you imagine that it made the paper?  This morning a co-worker informed me that there was a write-up about this event on by someone who participated and, clearly, greatly enjoyed herself. It’s gratifying to know people had a good time.