The Department participates in numerous activities for the care and appreciation of antiquities of the Pharaonic and Coptic age and of the Ancient Near East, as well as a core of Islamic material. The study of this material and of its collectionistic and museological history is the primary activity permitting a profound knowledge of it. For this purpose, there is also an exchange with many external scholars, often also visiting in order to examine the material. The staff of the Department organize and participate in conferences and study days to promote a lively dialogue with the scientific community and for constant updating.
The conservation of the works requires regular monitoring that also establishes the rhythm of the necessary restoration works, whose scientific direction is entrusted to the Department. The moment of restoration enables the study of the work in all its complexity, thanks to collaboration with the Restoration Laboratory responsible, along with the Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration. In addition, the adaptation of layouts contributes to the project of prevention and adequate conservation of the material displayed in the museum and conserved inside the storage deposits. The publication of results and research finds its first natural outlet in the Bollettino dei Musei Vaticani and in the Department’s catalogues, as well as specialist journals in the sector. The lively and constant collaboration with the Educational Activities Office allows the youngest members of the Museums’ public to be reached. The Department has also planned, edited and published a catalogue of the Gregorian Egyptian Museum dedicated specifically to the young, to increase their awareness of the material culture and to introduce them to Egyptian civilization.
The Department coordinates various projects of interdisciplinary research, involving the participation of international institutions and specialist scholars, for the study of important sectors of the collection:
- “Vatican Coffin Project”, coordinated by the Department along with the Vatican Museums Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration, studying the so-called “yellow sarcophagi” dating from the Third Intermediate Period.
The participants in the project are the Musée du Louvre of Paris; the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden of Leiden; the Museo Egizio in Turin; the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration de Musées de France (C2RMF), La Venaria Reale Centre of Conservation and Restoration in Turin, and Xylodata in Paris.
A cycle of international conferences on the theme in the Vatican Museums, entitled Vatican Coffin Conference (VCC) has been initiated, and has reached its second edition: 1VCC (19-22 June 2013); 2VCC (6-9 June 2017).
- “Vatican Mummy Project” for the study and conservation of the human and animal mummies in the collection.
The Department, with the constant collaboration of the Tapestries and Textiles Restoration Laboratory, the Paper Restoration Laboratory, and the Vatican Museums Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration, has had over time the contribution of many institutions and professions on the basis of the various themes studied: the Istituto di Mummiologia and the Iceman (EURAC) of Bolzano, the Department of Biology of the University of Pisa, the Department of Bio-Imaging and Radiological Sciences of the Columbus Integrated Complex of the Università Cattolica S. Cuore in Rome, the Poznan Radiocarbon Laboratory, the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Morphological Imaging of the University of Messina, the trainer Andrea Felice (Stone Materials Restoration Laboratory, Vatican Museums), the radiologist Stephanie Panzer (Unfallklinik Murnau), the paleo-anthropologist Dario Piombino-Mascali (Vilnius University), and the textiles restorer Cinzia Oliva.
- The “Orazio Marucchi Project” for the study, publication of the catalogue and conservation of the entire collection of Hieratic and Demotic papyruses.
The participants in the project are the Vatican Museums Paper Restoration Laboratory, the papyrologists Florence Albert (Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, Cairo), François Herbin (CNRS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and Juan José Archidona Ramírez (University of Leiden).
- “Sekhmet Project” for the study and conservation of statues of the goddess Sekhmet dating from the reign of Amenhotep III.
Participants in the project are the Vatican Museums Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration, the Museo Egizio in Turin, and the restorer Emiliano Ricchi.
The Department also collaborates on the archaeological site of Kom el-Hettan (West Thebes, Luxor), “The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project”, directed by the Egyptologist Hourig Sourouzian, for the realization of a “Sekhmet Museum”, both on-site and virtual, (bringing together the statues of Sekhmet dispersed throughout the world).
- “Bab el-Gasus Project”. The Department participates in the international project for the reconstruction of the original context of the so-called “hiding place of the sarcophaguses of Bab el-Gasus” (West Thebes, Luxor). Directed by the Egyptologist Rogerio Sousa (Universidade de Coimbra), it involves the collaboration of the University of Leiden, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden of Leiden, the Musée du Louvre of Paris, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts of Brussels.