Engaging Audiences in Areas of Low Cultural Provision

The Concept of the 'Pop-Up' Museum Experience

  • Melanie Pitkin (Author)

    Melanie Pitkin studied Egyptology at Macquarie University and Museum Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the Research Associate (Egyptian Antiquities) at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

  • Helen Strudwick (Author)

    Helen Strudwick studied Egyptology and eastern Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Liverpool. She is the Curator (Ancient Egypt) at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

  • Julie Dawson (Author)

    Julie Dawson studied archaeological conservation at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She holds a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, having recently retired from her role as Head of Conservation and Scientific Research.

  • Sara Hany Abed (Author)

    Sara Hany Abed studied museums and heritage development at Nottingham Trent University. She is a museums and heritage specialist and manager of the Fitzwilliam’s ‘Pop-Up’ Museum project in Egypt.

Identifiers (Article)


This paper shares a new project at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which focuses on making high quality Egyptological research accessible and relevant to diverse audiences, especially those in areas of social deprivation and low cultural provision. The ‘Pop-Up’ Egyptian Coffins project has been generously supported by the University of Cambridge Arts and Humanities Impact Fund, the Global Challenges Research Fund and ICOM UK – British Council. The project takes genuine artefacts (when possible), craft replicas, hands-on activities, digital experiences and, perhaps most importantly of all, active research staff into surprising and unexpected locations. Locally these have included supermarkets, pubs, shopping complexes, public thoroughfares and a community centre supporting local people in need and migrant communities. In Egypt the ‘Pop-Up’ has visited shops, a furniture factory, sporting facility and a public library. The aim is to promote social inclusivity, community participation and knowledge exchange by reaching out to diverse audiences via subjects, such as woodworking and carpentry that may be more familiar and accessible than ancient Egypt to the audiences in question. The paper will demonstrate the importance of this type of engagement for the future of museum curatorial practice, particularly in terms of helping to keep Egyptological research relevant and people-focused – something which we believe is critical within the context of publicly-funded museums.



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