Giza Archives Press Releases



MFA Website Will Allow Scholars to Access Excavation Diaries, Photographs and Maps of Egypt’s Famed Giza Pyramids

BOSTON, Mass. (September 18, 2000) — The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) has received a $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide integrated, online access to its archives documenting its Egyptian excavations at the Pyramids of Giza, one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. Over the next four years, the Giza Archives Project will convert excavation diaries, historic glass plate expedition photographic negatives, object register books, maps, plans and sketches from the ancient mastaba—tombs and pyramids at Giza—into electronic format to be accessed through the Museum’s website at The grant will provide digital access to this unique and irreplaceable collection and will augment the Museum’s efforts to establish an online database of its permanent collection which the Museum will begin posting on its website in December 2000.

"We can now begin to preserve the excavation archives of the Giza Pyramids, one of the MFA’s most important scholarly research projects, thanks to the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation," said Malcolm Rogers, the Museum’s Ann and Graham Gund Director. "This grant will allow the MFA to safeguard these materials and allow scholars from around the world access to these remarkable archives."

The Giza Pyramids, the only survivors of the seven wonders of the ancient world, form one part of a vast necropolis, or city of the dead, that housed hundreds of individual tombs of Egypt’s governing classes during the Old Kingdom (Dynasties 4–6, about 2630–2250 BC). The excavations, undertaken jointly by the MFA and Harvard University between 1905 and 1942, uncovered one of the richest collections of ancient Egyptian objects in the world. These artifacts, ranging from masterpieces of royal sculpture to everyday tools and implements of daily life, are now housed at the MFA, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and in situ at the Giza site (just west of modern Cairo).

"The Mellon grant will allow the international research community and the public access to this unparalleled collection of documents," said Nancy Allen, the MFA’s Director of Information Resources. "Once placed in a digital format, this information will become part of the comprehensive archival database project."

Photograph © Marcello Bertinetti/Archivio White Star

The Giza expeditions, directed by George A. Reisner from 1902 to 1942, were meticulously documented and photographed. The MFA’s archive of reports, photography, diaries, and registers from the Giza excavations is unrivaled for its thoroughness, containing information unavailable in any other location in the world. These materials are invaluable as they provide details about these renowned monuments to civilization. Images in the Museum’s collection range from world-famous Egyptian statues emerging from the desert sands to a 1912 production of Aïda at the base of the pyramids. Over the years, the glass negatives that preserved the documentation of this unique excavation project had begun to deteriorate. The Mellon grant, which the Museum received in June 2000, will allow the MFA to begin the lengthy and expensive electronic conversion process of this irreplaceable archaeological archive.

The Giza Archives Project will advance the international scholarship focused on this important site. Because artifacts depicted in the archives are shown in their best-preserved state, the Giza Archives Project will greatly enhance the study and understanding of Egyptian civilization during the Old Kingdom. These digital records will allow scholars unprecedented access to these archaeological materials, including those who are unable to visit the Giza site.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes grants on a selective basis to institutions in higher education, in cultural affairs and the performing arts, in population, in conservation and the environment, and in public affairs. In addition to the MFA, the Mellon Foundation awarded $750,000 grants to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is one of the world's most comprehensive art museums, recognized for the quality and scope of its collection. The Museum's collection is comprised of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints and Drawings; Contemporary Art; Photographs; Textiles and Costumes; and Musical Instruments. The MFA has an estimated 350,000 objects among its permanent holdings, including a world-famous collection of Egyptian art. For more information, log onto

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation aids and promotes religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes to further the public welfare or tend to promote the well-doing or well-being of mankind. For more information, log onto

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