Its exhibitions revolved around the earth sciences and human history represented by objects and folk art created from the prehistoric epochs on.
Roemer wished to include at least one gallery of ancient Egyptian art within this universal museum and convinced Wilhelm Pelizaeus (1851-1930), a Hildesheim native like himself, to help him achieve that end.
Pelizaeus, for reasons of ill health, had taken up residence in Egypt as early as 1869, but he was also working in his uncle's import-export business. In time, Pelizaeus became a representative of Krups, a German firm, and as its agent was involved in the construction of the very first railroad built in Egypt.
By 1878, Pelizaeus was financially secure enough to begin his collecting in earnest. He donated his collection of Egyptian antiquities to the city of Hildesheim in 1907. Pelizaeus continued to collect and to back scientific excavations in Egypt lead by scholars from such noted institutions as the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna and the University of Leipzig.
It is as a direct result of that patronage that such treasures as Hemiunu came into his possession and passed into the collections of Hildesheim.
Always a modest man, Pelizaeus did not wish his name to be emblazoned on any museum. His only desire was that his collection be called the Pelizaeus collection within the Roemer-Museum. After his death, the importance of the collection continued to be recognized. As a result, officials renamed the museum the Roemer-und Pelizaeus Museum in his honor. Today the city of Hildesheim claims the singular distinction of being the smallest city in Germany to possess a museum devoted to ancient Egyptian art.
In the intervening years the directors of the Pelizaeus-Museum have continued to add to the collections. In fact, several pieces on view here in St Petersburg are recent acquisitions that have not been on view in Hildesheim!
In addition to collecting, the Pelizaeus-Museum, under the able direction of Prof. Dr. Arne Eggebrecht, has become a home to a continuing series of special block-buster exhibitions.
In 1976, for example, 378,257 visitors showed up over a 10-week period to view an ancient Egyptian art exhibition. Such crowds over such a short period of time set an attendance record for German museums that still stands.
The Pelizaeus-Museum remains active as a leading institution of Egyptological research. It continues to excavate and publish its exciting discoveries at Qantir in the Eastern Deltas, which served as a residence for Pharaoh Rameses the Great. Here the remains of one of the only known chariot factories from the ancient world have been uncovered, in addition to stables for horses and an exercise court in which aspiring charioteers could hone their skills.
We at the Florida International Museum are, therefore, honored to present the "Splendors of Ancient Egypt" as represented by the stellar collections of the Roemer-und Pelizaeus Museum. We not only recognize the dedication of its professional staff and the commitment of all of its resources to this project, but we also acknowledge the important role that the city of Hildesheim and its officials have played in bringing this wonderful exhibition to the United States of America.