Oxford’s Ashmolean museum improving its world-class Egyptian galleries

The famous Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, England, reopened in 2009 after a £61 million ($101 million) makeover. The redesigned space is more open and airy, with more natural light and windows between exhibitions. Floorspace was doubled in size and the exhibits were made more informative and user firendly. A museum worker explained to me that part of the plan was to make it so you can always see your way out. This is to combat museum fatique. Personally I’m a museum junkie and I don’t get museum fatigue, but it sounds like a good idea.

Despite three years of work and the high price tag, the Ashmolean’s famous Egyptian galleries got left behind. There was no money to redo them at the time but after collecting another £5 million ($8.3), the galleries are now shut and going through a major overhaul. The four old Egyptian galleries were crowded and poorly lit, and will now be redesigned along the lines of the rest of the musuem. They’ll also expand into a fifth gallery to give the collection more room.

The Ashmolean Museum has been collecting Egyptian artifacts since 1683, when it was founded as the oldest public museum in the world. Its displays tell the story of one of the world’s greatest civilizations from its prehistoric beginnings until it became part of the Greek and Roman empires. Its collection of predynatic artifacts is the best outside of Egypt and show how Egypt developed into a superpower.

The Egyptian galleries will reopen in November 2011 and Gadling plans to be there to cover it.