When a small display case was no longer being used at the museum the first idea to spring to mind was to offer it to the volunteers to come up with a display theme, research their chosen objects and write the supporting information. The first theme to be chosen, curated by volunteer Dulcie Engel, is ‘Objects from a Victorian gentleman’s cabinet of curiosities.’ The objects selected for this display illustrate a range of typical items brought back as curios by Victorian and Edwardian travellers from Egypt and the Holy Land, who seem to have had few scruples with regards to the preservation of archaeological sites and ancient artefacts, or indeed the authenticity of their purchases!
John Foulkes Jones (1826-1880) was a Methodist minister from north Wales who travelled to Egypt and acquired these objects, which include: mummy hair, a stone chip from a st
atue, a bottle of holy water and mummy bandages. These items would grace a shelf or cabinet
back home, to be admired by visitors. An account of his journey was published in 1860.
The new display can be seen in the first floor, House of Life gallery, Tuesday to Saturday 10am-4pm.
My name is Dulcie Engel. I am originally from London, but I have lived in Swansea for more than twenty years. For most of that time I was lecturing in French and linguistics at Swansea University. I also taught English to adult learners in the community. I have been a volunteer at the Egypt Centre for the last three years.
One aspect of museums which really interests me is their history and development, and the universal human desire to collect objects. I will be giving a paper on the subject at a Swansea Historical Association public lecture at the National Waterfront Museum in June. It was while researching this topic that I got to know about this particular collection, which was donated to the Egypt Centre in 2016. When Wendy Goodridge, the assistant curator, asked for suggestions from volunteers for an empty display case, I knew right away what I would like to put in it!