Robert Hay Collection

In 1870, the Crystal Palace was host to a large and impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities, amassed over a fifty year period by the late Mr Robert Hay of Linplum.  Hay (1799-1863), a Scottish traveller, had acquired over 1300 objects during his lifetime and the responsibility for their display at the exhibition became that of Mr Joseph Bonomi, then curator of Sir John Soanes' Museum.  The objects which the London Daily News of 10 October 1870 described as being obtained 'with labour and difficulty' were varied; many in fact were considered at that time to be unique.  The collection contained objects of bronze and other metals, marble and alabaster, limestone and sandstone, wood, terracotta, 'porcelain', amulets, emblems and trinkets, domestic objects, glass and papyri.  All had been brought together, the newspaper report stated, in the first half of the 19th century, during a time 'when it was not the fashion to regard the Pyramids as a mere pic-nic resort'!  

Objects from Hay's collection now reside in the British Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Art.


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