Eton possesses one of the world’s finest private collections of Egyptian Art. The collection was bequeathed in 1899 by Major William Joseph Myers, who was educated at Eton between 1871 and 1875. Myers first went to Egypt in 1882 as Aide-de-Camp to the General commanding in Cairo. An incorrigible collector with a fine eye, the young soldier soon discovered the delights of Egyptian art: it was a passion that came to dominate his life.
Myers returned to Eton in 1899 as Adjutant to the Eton boys’ CCF. Soon, however, he enrolled again in his old regiment to fight in South Africa. On 30th October 1899, at the battle of Ladysmith, Myers was shot through the head by a Boer sniper’s bullet and killed outright. He bequeathed his collection to Eton. There are lesser objects from other cultures at Eton also, including Near Eastern and Classical.
The main items of the Egyptian collection have since 1999 been shown in New York, Leiden, Hildesheim, Madrid, Bordeaux and Japan. There will be an exhibition at the Barber Institute in Birmingham in 2010/11.
Plans are in hand for conservation, digitisation and improved access, teaching and research by means of a medium term loan of the collection to the University of Birmingham and Johns Hopkins University from 2010. A small, permanent exhibition is planned at Eton later in 2011 while the main collection is away.