Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology


University College London, Malet Place, WC1E 6BT


020-7679 2884



Opening times:

Tue–Sat 13:00-17:00

How to get there:

Tube: Goodge Street

Entry fee:


Additional information:

Limited disabled access. Shop

Located on the first floor of the DMS Watson Library in Malet Place (signs guide you to the lift), the Petrie Museum is attached to the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL) and is used as a teaching resource. It was founded in 1892 by the novelist, journalist and travel writer Amelia Edwards (1831–92) who left to the college, as well as her collection of Egyptian artefacts and library, a sum of money for the establishment of a chair of Egyptology, the first in the country. The professorship was filled by the great Egyptologist and excavator Sir Flinders Petrie (1853–1942), through whose digs in Egypt and Palestine the collection was further enhanced. In 1913 Petrie sold his personal collection to the museum; that collection is now recognised as one of international importance. Amelia Edwards’ passion for Egypt was stimulated by a trip she took in 1873, which resulted in her bestselling book A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877). Horrified by the neglect of ancient monuments there, in 1882 she founded the Egypt Exploration Fund, which sponsored excavations. Finds from these digs not wanted by the Egyptian authorities were sanctioned for export and through this method Flinders Petrie, the Fund’s chief excavator, was able to direct many valuable artefacts to the British Museum. Amelia Edwards was admiring of Petrie’s careful, scientific and controlled archaeology, but in 1903 he fell out with the Fund (now Society) and set up his own British School of Archaeology in Egypt based at UCL. The Petrie Museum, rather than the British Museum, became the main recipient of his finds.

The museum contains many items, including mummy portraits, from Petrie’s excavations at the Roman-period cemetery at Hawara in the Fayum; from Amarna, the city of Akhenaten; and from Abydos. It also has a great quantity of pottery, displayed on shelving in tall wooden cases. Petrie was one of the first to recognise the importance of pottery finds, from which he derived his system of sequence dating for the Pre-dynastic period. Also displayed are textiles; costume, including a unique 1st–2nd-century ad beaded dress of a dancer; papyri and sculpture.

Only partial display of the 80,000 objects is possible but a new museum is planned, on three floors of the new university ‘Panopticon’ building, due to open in 2008. Until then torches are available for the keen to combat low light levels.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


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