Several weeks ago (08 October), the Egypt Centre soft launched its new online collection catalogue. The catalogue was not initially planned for release until mid-2021. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the museum being closed to the public for the foreseeable future, we decided to push ahead with an early launch. When the Egypt Centre launched its previous online catalogue back in 2005, it was one of the first museums to have its entire collection accessible online. However, the catalogue was quite limited, with most images not suitable for research purposes, and the site being difficult to maintain and update. The new online catalogue (fig. 1), brought to you by Abaset Collections Ltd, was designed specifically with the Egypt Centre in mind. Sam Powell, a student at Swansea University and volunteer at the Egypt Centre, used her experience of working with the collection to design a new bespoke platform that would allow it to be appreciated virtually. Through working closely with the Egypt Centre staff, the catalogue has been honed to ensure that the user experience is as intuitive as possible and meets the needs of a diverse collection.
|Fig. 1: Home page of the new online catalogue|
As this is the soft launch of the catalogue, a lot more work is needed. For example, descriptions were imported directly from our internal MODES catalogue, which was not intended for public use. Many of the descriptions and other fields need to be cleaned and expanded upon over the coming months. Therefore, please bear with us as these improvements are implemented. Additionally, new photos are being produced and are being added daily. The sizes of the images have been reduced to save server space and costs, and although high-res images are available on request, the image quality is still suitable for research and use in presentations. There are currently 5661 items listed, accompanied by 9618 photos. The majority of the items were collected by the pharmacist Sir Henry Wellcome and arrived in Swansea in 1971 as part of the distribution of his Egyptian collection (fig. 2).
|Fig. 2: Word cloud of collectors and institutions represented in the collection|
The new catalogue has many advanced features, some unique. For example, since many of the objects originate from early twentieth century auctions, users can narrow down their searches to specific auctions and even lot numbers. The catalogue also has a number of thematic trails, which allow visitors to take a “virtual tour” of the collection (fig. 3). New features will be added in due course, including the ability of users to create their own trails. This feature offers the possibility of students to create their own trails/curate their own virtual collection. Lecturers could also do the same based on a specific module. This might be particularly appealing to some given the push for more online/blended learning due to the current pandemic.
|Fig. 3: Online trails|
One benefit of the data updating in real time has been the ability to make changes whilst working remotely. Using a combination of Zoom and the Online Collection, it has been possible to complete audit checks on objects in real time, with Ken measuring objects in Swansea and Sam updating the information in the Forest of Dean (fig. 4)!
|Fig. 4: Updating records via Zoom|
Please feel free to share this will students and . We hope you enjoy exploring our collection virtually!
We are immensely grateful to the Greatest Need Fund and the Swansea University alumni who helped fund this project.