Museums today are using advanced technologies to tell the stories of their artifacts, creating an even better experience for visitors. A few years ago, the Egyptian Museum in Turin underwent a massive refurbishment that required innovative access solutions.
The Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, first opened its doors to visitors in 1824. It houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The museum has an exhibition space of 12,000 square meters spread over four floors. It sits in the Palazzo dell’Accademia delle Scienze, built in 1687 as a school for the children of the local nobility.
Highlights of the 40,000 artifacts collection include an impressive statue of Ramesses II, 17,000 papyrus fragments, and the well-preserved Tomb of Kha and his wife Merit, which dates back to 3,500 BC. Visitors can also admire the spectacular rock-hewn Ellesija Temple, donated by the Egyptian government in 1970, after Italy helped save it from being submerged by Lake Nasser.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come to Turin – or Torino as the Italians say – to visit this extraordinary museum. But before the renovation, the museum’s displays and facilities were cramped and outdated. In 2012, the museum decided it was time for a complete overhaul. There was a €50 million budget and a 1000-day deadline.
The Italian company Isolarchitetti, which oversaw the refurbishment needed innovative access solutions to help improve visitor flows. They also requested advanced partition options that didn’t interfere with the buildings’ historical architecture.
Glass and automatic doors
The museum installed a horizontal glass partitioning system including both fixed and movable elements, such as elegant glass double doors at the entrance with its nineteenth-century staircase. The result is a transparent look, while still separating the different areas. In the hall for public reception services, a thin-frame telescopic automatic door to better manage the flow of visitors was installed. It is also an emergency exit route.
Other companies further improved the visitor experience with technologies like a sophisticated system for optimum temperature and humidity. This helps better preserve the collection, enhance visitor comfort, and limit the environmental impact.
Techniques from the fields of chemistry, physics, and radiology are now used to study and preserve the artifacts. One of the exhibitions ongoing until January 2020, Archeologia Invisibile, shows how the techniques help reveal information that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Understanding Ancient Egypt
Visitors receive a video guide with their entry tickets. This device guides them through the various museum routes from the era before the pharaohs, the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, up to the 6th century AD. They listen to fascinating stories about the lives of Ancient Egyptians of various backgrounds, and view compelling photographs and videos about the historical contexts and landscapes where the objects were found.
These contemporary exhibitions offer visitors a more profound glimpse at the archaeological finds. Even though science and technology might not have solved many of the wonders of the Ancient Egypt, in this 21st century Italian museum, the cutting edge building technologies bring the most out of it.