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Liverpool Museum was founded in 1851 through the bequest of the 13th Earl of Derby who left the city his fine collections of vertebrate animals. In 1867 Joseph Mayer, a Liverpool goldsmith, gave the museum a magnificent collection of antiquities. With these two collections the museum was established as one of the finest in the country. Today the collections number some one-and-a-quarter million specimens from all parts of the world and even from the moon and beyond.

The largest single group of antiquities is the Egyptian collection which, despite severe losses caused by the bombing of the museum in 1941, still contains 15,000 objects, many from the Mayer collection. His collection was added to during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Liverpool Museum subscribed to various excavations undertaken in Egypt, including the very first properly recorded excavations by W.M.F. Petrie. Many objects came also through cooperation with the excavations of the University of Liverpool in Egypt and the Sudan, particularly by Professor John Garstang. The Egyptian collection covers all types and periods of Egyptian antiquities, ranging from fine art items to representative objects from excavations.