Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden
Years ago I visited Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden (the Netherlands) for the first time. My visit is so long ago I can barely remember what I saw there. I do, however, remember it was an impressive collection, especially considering the modest size of the museum.
Last week I was back in the Netherlands for Christmas and I decided to include a visit to the RMO to refresh my memory.
At this moment in time the number of museums I visited which have anything to do with ancient Egypt (sometimes remotely, I have to admit) is getting very close to 20. So when I say that I’m impressed with the items on display in Leiden, that means something. Let’s not forget that there are a few very well established museums on my list, like the British Museum (London, UK), Neues Museum (Berlin, Germany) and Louvre (Paris, France). Most of the museums I have visited are considerably bigger than the RMO, and so are their Egyptian departments.
Why do I like this museum so much? That has to do with a few factors.
First of all, the way the collection is set up is sometimes quite different. For example, there is a corner in one of the rooms where several stelae have been set up together. You can press a button on an interactive map to hear the text on the stela of your choice (in Dutch). That’s something I have only seen in Manchester Museum (Manchester, UK); they have a replica stela which can be explored in a similar way.
Second, there is plenty of room to move about, but still there is a lot on display. You can easily spend a few hours just looking at the Egyptian artefacts.
Finally, they have some truly exquisite items on display. And some are quite well known, like Maya and Meryt.
I also like the fact it is all set up in chronological order, neatly starting with the predynastic period and ending with their mummy collection. Oh, and they have cat mummies.
You cannot avoid damaged artefacts, but most items in this museum are in a wonderful condition. When things are damaged or unfinished they make the most of it. Like with the statue below, which is unfinished; they stress the fact it’s not completed by setting it up just a little differently.
To be honest, I’d love to include all 33 photos I have of this collection in this post, but that would be bit much. There is, however, so much to like! I liked the baboon mummy, the cubit, the beautiful statues and the offering table.
It would be a lot easier to advise you to go see it for yourself. You will not be disappointed.