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Story of the sun god’s daughter

18 April 2017 by Scott Smith

Our handling team getting ready to move the Sekhmet statue.

The team getting ready to move the Sekhmet statue. © Pete Carr

It seemed no coincidence that the sun shone bright on the day that we moved our statues of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, daughter of sun god Ra, from World Museum’s atrium to their new home in our Ancient Egypt: A journey through time gallery.

The sculptures were acquired by Joseph Mayer in 1852 and donated to World Museum in 1867 where they were put proudly on display in the museum’s main hall. There, they stoically guarded the entrance of the Museum’s galleries until the Second World War began.

Most of the objects evacuated from the museum during the Blitz were carried out by hand, but due to the size and weight of the Sekhmets, although rare and special to the collection, they proved impossible to move. As the Blitz began, the statues remained in place at the entrance to the staircase, but had to be surrounded by sandbags.

The Sekhmets proudly guarding the entrance to the new mummy room

The Sekhmets proudly guarding the entrance to the new mummy room. © Pete Carr

Against all odds, the statues endured the worst of the Blitz bombings. They survived the fire that ravaged World Museum but they were sadly broke into several pieces. It was not until 1995 that the two goddess statues were repaired by museum conservators, ready for their redisplay when the museum reopened in 2005.

Since then the statues of the goddess have stood flanking the entry of the main staircase in World Museum, welcoming guests into the galleries. Now, with the reopening of the new Ancient Egypt gallery, it was time to rightfully display the goddess statues amongst the rest of our Ancient Egypt collection in order to tell their story.

Weighing over 3 tonnes collectively, it took efforts of epic proportions to relocate the statues. A team of more than 10 were involved in the 24 hour operation which involved taking the Sekhmets on a journey outside of the museum using lifts, hoists, harnesses and all sorts of contraptions to get them into place.

The statues now proudly stand guarding the entrance to the gallery’s Mummy Room ahead of its opening on Friday 28 April.

Visit our Ancient Egypt: A journey through time webpage to find out more about what you can expect to find in the new gallery. You can also find out more about the history of the Sekhmets in our online collection about the Blitz.

You can watch the full journey of the statues in our timelapse video below:

 

  1. MAGDA ORTEGA says:

    The Amazing Job Did placing and taking care of the Sehkmets is astonishing I have no Doubt that they will bring your museum Lots of Blessings and Good luck, Thank you for Taking good care of them and for Preserving Our History to the best.

  2. Kathryn Nutter says:

    I thought that the Ancient Egypt. A journey through time was absolutely wonderful. Congratulations.
    If this is the second biggest collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK, and judging by the number of non English speaking tourists present on Tuesday morning (this morning) 02/05/07
    What a shame that they could not read the same wonderful information that I was able to. Surely there should be other languages displayed (even if leaflets are available) It is ‘The World Museum’ after all. The overseas tourists spent a lot less time looking at the wonderful work you have done than the British visitors and I think that lack of information geared to their needs was the reason.
    Other international museums display English text. I felt a bit ashamed as a Liverpool resident that this could be seen as an example of prejudice post Brexit.
    In view of the huge mistakes demonstrated by some of the stories about how some artefacts were treated in the early twentieth century in a demonstration of Empire building mentality, are we carrying on or displaying a mentality that Brittania still rules the waves and that The English language is supreme?
    I loved the whole display and learnt so much and judging by the volume of the school children’s chattering and excitement it was a hit with them all.
    Thank you and please would you consider my request?

    • National Museums Liverpool says:

      Hi Kathryn,

      Thank you for your comments about our new Egypt gallery – we’re glad you enjoyed it. We welcome many overseas tourists to all our museums and galleries: more than 400,000 last year. Since 2008, we have produced leaflets at every venue in at least four languages, and our website has a function which makes all the text translatable. We would also love to be able to translate exhibition and gallery text, as this would make all our spaces fully accessible to all visitors, regardless of language. Unfortunately, funding constraints mean that we are unable to do this. As a publicly-funded service, budgets are very tight, but we are making it a priority to keep most of our offer free and accessible to as many visitors as possible.

      Best wishes,

      Scott

      • Kathryn Nutter says:

        Thank you for your reply.
        What a shame that the funding is not sufficient to cover what is essentially a language and cultural interchange leading to future recommendation and more visitors.
        Thank you for all the hard work that you did to produce this wonderful exhibition. Just a thought for the Politicians and future patrons:

        ‘An investment in knowledge
        always pays the best interest.’
        Benjamin Franklin
        (1706-1790)

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