In the Spotlight with....Campbell Price

Image via Campbell Price

Campbell Price
Curator of the Manchester Museum

Why Egyptology? How did you become interested in the subject?
Honestly? Thundercats. When I was about 5 I loved the baddie – Mumm-Ra – who lived in an onyx pyramid. Childhood visits to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow also helped spark my interest.

Describe a “typical” day in your job?
In Manchester the curators work closely with colleagues from across the Museum on different projects, so meetings and emails take up a lot of time; answering enquiries and some teaching. I enjoy the time I get to look in detail at objects, and seeing possible connections.

What do you find most rewarding/challenging about being a Curator of an Egyptian Collection?
Seeing the lightbulb moment in people – from 5 year olds who wanted to know the answer to a question or researchers who find a missing part of their jigsaw puzzle. That’s very rewarding. It is challenging to keep on top of emails!

What is the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Discovering that we had an unknown statue of Senenmut in our stores. That was Egyptological gold. I’ll never forget it.

With heritage funding cuts becoming even more a worrying reality, how do you see the museum of the future having to adapt?
Yes, museums have to adapt with the times - but they must maintain the distinctiveness that makes them so popular.

What do you think the impact has been on the museum world in regard to the sale of the statue of Sekhemka by Northampton Council? 
That case has prompted serious reflection in some very high-up places, and it has motivated people working in collections to advocate in a stronger and more targeted way about the (non-financial) value of objects.

What is your favourite ancient Egyptian object and where is it displayed?
That’s a tough one… I suppose it depends on what I happen to be looking at at that moment! Outside of Manchester, it would have to be one of the Karnak Cachette statues I studied for my PhD.

Do you collect anything yourself?

If you hadn’t become involved with Egyptology, what else do you think that you would have chosen to do?
I did flirt with European politics in my youth, but I’m certainly glad I didn’t follow that path!

What were your best/worst subjects in school? 
English and History were the ones I enjoyed most - P.E. was probably my worst.

If you could select one person from history to ask them a question, who would you chose and what would be the question?
It’s a bit of a cliché, but Ramesses II. I’d ask if he was a god. Same question to Amenhotep III, though I think he’d have more sparkling conversation.
Who would you most want to be stuck in an elevator with?
The Swedish actor Max von Sydow. He’s my non-Egyptological idol.

What is your favourite word?
'conceptualisation' - It's in my PhD title and covers a multitude of sins!

How would your friends describe you in 3 words?
A professional enthusiast.
What was the last photograph you took on your phone?
Researchers preparing to mummify a fake animal mummy.

What would be a good theme song for your life?
Anything by Lady Gaga.
And finally….

What exciting things does 2016 hold in store for you?
Animal Mummies! We’re touring the exhibition to my home town of Glasgow – to Kelvingrove, where my interest started – so that will be special. I also have few conferences and publications I’m looking forward to working on, or see appear in print.

Thank you to Campbell for taking the time to answer these questions!


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