Il Museo delle Antichità Egizie, known as Museo Egizio, houses the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities after the Cairo Museum. After almost four years and a budget of 50 million Euros, the Museum’s renovations are now completely done – as of April 1, 2015. Throughout the entire expansion process, the Museum remained open – even achieving its highest ever recorded number of visitors in 2014.
The renovation includes construction that doubled the exhibition space through the integration of the former Savoy Gallery, previously a separate exhibition space in the Museum complex. The monumental collection of Egyptian art and artifacts has been subsequently reorganized as well. All the papyrus has been gathered into one room, including one that measures 18 meters long. Deity statues, sarcophagi and additional artifacts were restored and studied by field experts. Museo Egizio was previously remodeled in 2006 in honor of the Winter Olympics, with several main rooms redesigned by Dante Ferretti, including a reimagination of the use of lighting and mirrors to better highlight the large Pharaonic statue collection.
The Museum’s first acquisition was the Mensa Isiaca, an altar table, purchased by the Savoy King Carlo Emanuele I in 1630. Subsequent additions include Vittorio Amedeo II’s collection in 1723 and a collection of over 5000 objects acquired by Bernardino Drovetti, prompting the move to a larger building. Famed Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion conducted his famous deciphering of hieroglyphic writing utilizing this collection. Museo Egizio was officially founded in 1824.
The Museum currently displays over 6,500 objections with an additional 26,000 objects in storage. Notably, the collection includes three different versions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, including the oldest known copy.