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Costly Museum Fire in London

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts Feared Lost

A FIRE MONDAY MORNING AT A private museum in London, England, has caused considerable damage and may have destroyed some valuable artifacts.

Patry News World

The fire started on the roof of the Cuming Museum shortly after noon yesterday and eventually brought 150 firefighters to the scene as they were faced with a tremendous salvage challenge.

The fire was eventually brought under control about 5:30 pm, but four pumpers are still on the scene today for mop-up and standby duty as curators are attempting to get inside to assess the damage and secure the artifacts that survived.  The firefighters managed to rescue 500 artifacts from the fire.  However, the museum officials say that a coin from Queen Cleopatra’s 51-30BC reign, mummies, fragments of tombs from Thebes and stones inscripted with hieroglyphics are feared lost.

Adrian Whittle, head of cultural services at Southwark council, told the Evening Standard: "Only about one per cent of the collection is on display at any time and the rest is held in storage, so the majority of the artefacts are safe.  We are still waiting to get into the museum so we can see the extent of the damage. We just don’t know what has been lost yet."

The museum is housed in the former Walworth Town Hall
(photo by The Independent)

The Independent provided some background on the museum:

The collection was started by Richard Cuming, who moved to Walworth from Devon with his family in 1779 when he was two. He developed a passion for fossils after being given one as a child.

His son Henry bought thousands of historical objects at auctions over his lifetime as well as keeping contemporary memorabilia from including theatre tickets, toys and even paper bags before his death in 1902.

The museum was founded by the Cuming family in 1906 and is famed for its 100,000-strong items collected from around the world over the course of more than a century.

In addition to the museum, the city-block-size complex contains a library and offices for the local council.

This video from Patry News World has some good aerial footage of the blaze:

 

LondonSE1 website has more details and photos HERE.
BBC News has MORE.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • ukfbbuff

    Too bad the building was not sprinklered. It would have saved the building and more of ts contents.

    • firegeezer

      Europeans generally shun sprinklers in buildings housing libraries and museums.  Over the centuries they have had far worse damage from water than from the rare fire, so they choose the lesser risk.  Their incidence of fire is notably smaller than here in the U.S.