Soad Fayez: seeing Egypt in London

All of the Museum staff, including the director Neil MacGregor, have been very helpful and welcoming. For me, it is the first time to leave Egypt, seeing objects such as the Rosetta Stone and Sphinx’s beard, and also visiting places I had read about – Downing Street, Buckhingham Palace, Kenwood House and garden, and the English countryside. Importantly, it is also the first time for me to meet people from China, India, Palestine, Turkey … and see so many nationalities in the street. As such, it is the first time I have felt such self-confidence.

The parts I enjoy most are seeing the Egyptian objects: the Rosetta Stone I had read about in history books, and seen a replica in the Egyptian Museum. When I saw the real Stone, I wished to hold it. Not to bring it to Egypt, as I can sense how the British Museum cares for it, and places the Stone in a prominent place. The bust of Ramses II is very impressive (he looks on visitors from above, they look upwards to him), but also the false doors, statue of Amenemhat III, coffins, the mummy mask of Satdjehuty, and the human remains store, which we visited with the curator for physical anthropology, Daniel Antoine. In the pottery store, I saw pottery from my area of Egypt (Beni Suef), but we have also visited Departments of Coins & Medals, and Prints & Drawings.

In the Egyptian ceramics store with senior curator Jeffrey Spencer

Throughout, I have learnt to respect other cultures and countries, and how to research objects. I am keen to add objects from my museum to the History of the World website. As for museum education, my specialism, I learned how to make handouts for children with trails of museum objects, but also how to connect the past and present using evennts like dancing, and using gardens to talk about ancient civilisations.

Finally, Sir Hans Sloane gathered all these objects and his donation started a great museum in 1753 – he was clearly thinking of the future: now the Museum holds over 7 milliion pieces.

Soad Fayez.