One of the biggest challenges facing us as trainees on the site management field school was how to get ideas to develop the visitor trail at Memphis. One very informative way was by visiting other heritage sites. Our evaluation of these sites was done by analyzing five major elements:
1) facilities and infrastructure
2) information resources and physical trails
4) visitor flow
5) narrative and message of the displayed content.
Through these specific elements we found out the strengths and weaknesses of each site which helped us to come up with ideas that could be applied at Memphis.
Leaving the visitor centre at the site of Karanis in the Fayum Oasis.
Karanis was our first field trip. It is a Greco-Roman town and part of the governorate of Fayum. From the first moment we got off the bus we were overwhelmed by the scale of the site and the mud brick house that was the University of Michigan dig house in the 1920s and later became a weekend home for the British Ambassador. It has now been partially reused as a visitor centre. Environmental material from the site has been used to determine the visitor trail which we thought was a brilliant idea. We think that this idea could be implemented in Memphis by using palm trees to mark the visitor trail.
The personal items of the architect Jean-Philippe Lauer inside the Imhotep Museum at Saqqara.
Imhotep Museum at Saqqara was the loveliest site we visited during this field school. The display is the most attractive feature in the museum which re-contextualizes some artefacts. For example there is a gallery dedicated to the French architect and Egyptologist, Jean-Philippe Lauer. It exhibits his personal belongings used during his excavation and restoration project at the Djoser Pyramid at Saqqara. Alongside this were photos of workers from the local community who participated in the project. We felt that this might help to engage the local community with the museum and make them feel proud when they visited it in the company of their relatives or friends.
The Children’s Museum was one of our favourite site visits where we participated in one of the most enjoyable activities – Lego. We sat around small tables playing with Lego to make some iconic pharaonic buildings. Playing like this evoked our childhood memories, helping us to imagine how children engage with the pharaonic civilization which will increase their awareness about their heritage. It was a magical tool that connects children with their past. At this moment we had an idea to try and implement some of these activities in the Memphis Open Air Museum even just on certain days to attract local children and their parents.
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo contains some of the most interesting and famous treasures in the world. During our visit we encountered one of the most important events carried out in the museum. It was the last day of preparing a special exhibition for the blind. The aim of this exhibition was to let people who can see share their experience with those who can’t. It also provided blind people with an opportunity to engage with the artefacts of the museum by providing them with labels that are written in braille and replica artefacts which they could touch. This highlighted the importance of these kinds of special events and made us think about how they could be implemented in the Memphis Open Air Museum.
We still need more time to develop the ideas that we gained from other archaeological sites at Memphis. Come and visit Memphis and share with us your experience and ideas to help us further develop the Memphis Walking Trail.