Going to the Savoy capital to visit the Egyptian Museum of Turin has given us the chance to admire an ancient civilization at the centre of a modern proposal.
Turin, a magical city also for the many museums it hosts, boasts a three-hundred and sixty degree reception. Is it possible to visit some museums with a curious seven-year-old and a newborn baby to breastfeed? Yes, because the museums in the Piedmontese city excel as services for families.
A museum that thinks back on itself is a living, dynamic and modern cultural institution that aims to spread knowledge.
Christian Greco (director of the Egyptian Museum)
In our last visit, we focused on two museums: the Egyptian Museum and the Cinema Museum.
The Egyptians have always exerted a magnetic fascination on my son, our house is full of relics and games that evoke the pharaonic splendours. As a teacher, I have always “feared” the Museum of Turin: too big (10 thousand square metres!), I always assumed it was very demanding in terms of the number of exhibits and I didn’t want to run the risk of a boring museum experience… I had to think again!
Where is the Egyptian Museum of Turin
The location of the Egyptian Museum is central to the city’s points of interest, just a few metres away is the splendid Piazza San Carlo which offers, among other things, numerous refreshment points. It is located in Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6 near the Royal Palace of Turin, another marvel of the city.
The Museum is well connected by public transport and offers very interesting family packages, as well as a range of promotions suitable for any occasion (Valentine’s Day, Over 60, last minute, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, International Women’s Day, just to name a few).
Egyptian children’s museum – Family tour
For children there is a ninety-minute facilitated route, the “Family Tour”. Armed with a paper map and a specific app installed in the smart guidebook that is delivered at the ticket office, the very young visitors will discover the history of Egypt and the social, economic, political and artistic characteristics of the great civilization, following the adventures of some children and chasing the little leg, symbol of their path, imprinted on the various showcases.
The phases of the proposed history are enclosed in some of the most significant finds: a real treasure hunt with an archaeological flavour!
The visit to the Egyptian Museum is happily enjoyable with the children, who, thanks to its conception, will try to make them become passionate about history without boring them. It is not only a total immersion in an ancient civilization with a timeless charm, but also the possibility to live a remarkable experience in a Museum concept capable of continuous renewal.
Turin Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian museum extends over four floors and has recently been restored, doubling the exhibition space and renovating the layout. Proof of this are the escalators that trace the ascent of the river Nile, designed by Oscar-winning set designer Dante Ferretti.
Egyptian Museum of Turin Map
Ticket office and bookshop are available on the underground floor. A changing table is also available for changing babies. There are some statues that reconstruct the history of the Museum.
Going up to the second floor the actual visit begins: the Museum is within the family’s reach also because of the high accessibility it guarantees, pushchairs and prams can easily circulate in all museum areas. On the second floor are preserved finds from the predynastic period to the New Kingdom, with an interesting reconstruction of the tomb of Iti and Neferu. A long corridor of frescoes will arouse the interest and imagination of the little ones, and not only!
The first floor is characterised, among other things, by the sarcophagi gallery with some mummies. The testimonies collected in this space date back to Roman and Late Antique times.
The arrangement of the mummies, as well as that of all the finds in the Museum, follows a precise chronological order. Adults and children, having won a first moment of “impression”, will therefore discover that initially the deceased were laid on their left side in a fetal position, without being blindfolded. Subsequently they began to be arranged with the body stretched out (therefore even the sarcophagi changed shape) after having been treated with increasingly refined embalming techniques. Some arrangements reconstruct the exact position of the finds, both artifacts and humans, as they were discovered by archaeologists when they opened the relevant tombs: it is almost possible to relive their own emotions at the moment of discovery!
Thanks to the numerous inscriptions found together with the finds, it has been possible to trace the identity of many mummies: it makes a certain effect to know that what we are looking at in a shop window was once a human being with a name, a role, a history, which can be recreated also thanks to the everyday objects that were buried together with the deceased.
The view ends on the ground floor, where the real pearl of the exhibition extends: the Kings’ gallery. Here statues of pharaohs and mythological figures alternate in a strategic play of light and shadow, the result of recent restoration.
Egyptian Museum of Turin – History
The Egyptian Museum of Turin is the oldest museum in the world dedicated entirely to the culture of the Pharaohs. It all comes to life when, following Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, all the courts of Europe show an interest in having finds and testimonies of the ancient Egyptians. France, the British Empire, the Austro-Hungarians and even the Savoy family began to send expeditions to theizioni e ad acquistare reperti dai vari esploratori presenti in terra egiziana.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni and Bernardino Drovetti
Among the most important explorers of the time two Italians: Giovanni Battista Belzoni and Bernardino Drovetti who fuelled their rivalry for many years.
The first was a Paduan explorer from whom George Lukas took inspiration to create the character of “Indiana Jones”. After various vicissitudes Belzoni met the British consul in Cairo Hanry Salt, who was keen to find riches and finds for the British Museum after the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt had turned the spotlight on that story. He led three great expeditions to Egypt with very important discoveries.
Bernardino Drovetti was also Italian, but he was in Egypt as an officer of the Napoleonic army in 1798. From there he began his diplomatic career which led him to be Consul General from 1811. He was a great collector of finds taken mainly from the city of Thebes and his first collection was sold to the King of Sardinia in 1824, creating the original nucleus of the Egyptian Museum of Turin.
The first was driven by the thirst for discovery, the second by the profits that these discoveries could generate. The rivalry between Belzoni and Drovetti was based on espionage during the campaigns, threats and sabotage, but the fact is that the two Italians were the precursors of modern Egyptology.
In 1824 the Drovetti collection was purchased by King Carlo Felice and housed in Palazzo Nobili and in 1832 the museum opened to the public.
Ernesto Schiapparelli’s campaign
Between 1903 and 1937, Ernesto Schiapparelli, director of the museum in Turin, conducted an excavation campaign that brought over 30,000 finds to Italy.
Today the Egyptian museum in Turin represents the largest Egyptian museum in the world outside Egypt and I would add that it can be visited safely compared to the Egyptian one, declared by the same museum in Cairo “branch” connected.
Today it reaches about one million visitors a year, positioning itself as the first museum visited in Italy, the ninth in Europe and the fourteenth in the world.
The Egyptian Museum Today
The design of the spaces and the setting up, the use of modern technologies, the implementation of innovative artistic solutions, have as a common denominator the attempt to meet the needs of every type of visitor, trying to understand the great challenge of the museum poles of our time.
What a museum needs today is not only to satisfy the visitor in the present, but to provide stimuli to trigger the desire to return to visit the museum and temporary exhibitions at other times.
In this sense, the Egyptian Museum is an interesting example of continuous renewal and putting into play. For example, the current director, Christian Greco, has reiterated the need to change the statuary that animates the Kings’ gallery designed by Ferretti because, although it is very popular with tourists, it is, according to Egyptologists, too decontextualised.
The future of the Museum is all to be written.
Egyptian Museum Turin timetables and tickets
The timetable for the Egyptian Museum of Turin is as follows: The ME of Turin is open every day, on Mondays from 9:00 to 14:00 and the other days from 9:00 to 18:30. The ticket office closes one hour before closing time. Consult the official website of the Egyptian Museum because during the year there are countless promotions for a reduced or even in some cases free entrance.
Egyptian Museum ticket costs
The full ticket costs 15 euros, but the offer is very different to encourage the visit: Children up to 5 years old are free, from 6 to 14 years old the cost is only 1 euro and from 15 to 18 years old the ticket costs 11 euros.
Egyptian Museum Turin visit duration
As in all museums of considerable importance and with an almost infinite number of exhibits the visit would last for days, but we all know that after a few hours the level of attention and interest drops. Clearly it is not possible, therefore, trying to organize the visit, it takes at least 3 hours to get at least the idea of its magnificence.
There are also many formulas with guided tours that I always suggest and especially if you manage to form a small group of people they have almost the cost of the audio guide.