Pharaoh: a Melbourne Masterclass series

About the Masterclass series

PAs part of the University of Melbourne's Learning Partnership with NGV's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces® 2024: Pharaoh, the Faculty of Arts will again present our popular annual Melbourne Masterclasses. Over three sessions, our experts will offer insights and critical discussion of key elements of ancient Egyptian culture and history.

Hosted by the Tatoulis Chair in Classics Professor Tim Parkin, the Masterclass series provides unique insights designed to enrich your experience of this landmark exhibition.

Masterclass attendees will enjoy:

  • stimulating presentations from Dr Becky Clifton, Dr Sharyn Volk, and Dr Tom Davies;
  • light refreshments in the Garden Restaurant prior to each lecture;
  • exclusive after-hours access to the exhibition, allowing you to explore with a fraction of the usual crowds;
  • and a 20% discount on all NGV Membership categories for first-time members.

Please note, this masterclass series is now BOOKED OUT. Join the waitlist here.

Statue of future Pharaoh Horemheb and his wife

Egypt, Saqqara, tomb of Horemheb 
18th Dynasty, reigns of Tutankhamun or Ay, about 1336–1323 BCE 
H 130 cm 
British Museum, London 
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Wednesday 17 July

The Royal Family: love, emotion, and social connection in ancient Egypt

How can ancient historical objects reveal the identities and experiences of those who used them? Delving into some of the never-before-seen artworks in the exhibition, join Dr Becky Clifton for an exploration of the lives, loves, and relationships at the heart of Egyptian pharaonic history.

This masterclass session has concluded.

a photo of Becky Davis sitting in front of vase artefacts

Presented by Dr Becky Clifton

Rebecca (Becky) Clifton is part of the Classics and Archaeology discipline at the University of Melbourne, where she has taught a range of subjects encompassing ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome. Her PhD thesis, Art and Identity in the Age of Akhenaten (2019) explores expressions of gender, self, and social connectivity during the reign of Akhenaten, with a particular focus on how the Aten religion related to changing ways of representing human bodies and relationships. Dr Clifton is deeply interested in art as a form of self-expression and the human experiences of individuals in the past.

Wednesday 24 July

Journey to the Afterlife: tomb goods and symbolic depictions in ancient Egypt

Embark on a captivating journey exploring ancient Egyptian preparations for death which, if resources allowed, included provision of a prescriptive suite of tomb goods intended to ensure safe passage to the afterlife. Join Dr Sharyn Volk for a visually rich presentation which will reveal the symbolism embedded in these objects, shedding light on their practical and spiritual significance, and featuring exquisite artefacts featured in the Pharaoh exhibition.

Please note, this masterclass session is now BOOKED OUT. Join the waitlist here.

Image of Sharyn Volk, a lady wearing black framed glasses

Presented by Dr Sharyn Volk

Sharyn completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2019. Her doctoral dissertation investigated the intention and function of ancient Egyptian and Nubian funerary figurines and presented a new classification model for their study. Her fields of research interest include ancient Egyptian burial practice and symbolism in the ancient world, and her figurine work is ongoing. As co-founder of the not-for-profit Hands-on-Humanities Project, Sharyn currently leads an international team delivering object-inspired ancient history educational programs. She believes in the power of objects and storytelling as pathways to mitigating educational inequality.

Thursday 1 August

Heaven and Earth: Egyptian views of God and the natural world

Ancient Egypt was a land of many gods, but some Egyptians saw one unique creator beyond them all: a ‘hidden’ god, who made our world and makes our life within it possible. Who, or what, was this god? Join Dr Tom Hercules Davies in exploring the cosmic and the divine, the natural and supernatural, through the songs of worship ancient Egyptians composed for display in their spectacular tombs.

Please note, this masterclass session is now BOOKED OUT. Join the waitlist here.

A headshot of Tom Davies, a young man with brown hair and glasses smiling to someone off camera

Presented by Dr Tom Davies

Dr Tom Hercules Davies joined Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne in 2024. He is a comparative philologist, interested in premodern textual cultures from Iceland to the Bay of Bengal. He works primarily with Greek, Akkadian, Egyptian, and the Indo-Iranian, Germanic, and Italic languages, and his writing focuses on the transmission of poetry, philosophy, and science among these traditions in the Bronze and Iron Ages. His forthcoming book outlines how the debates that drove the development of early Greek philosophy first took shape in Egypt and the Near East.


Wed 17 July | Wed 24 July | Thurs 1 August 2024

From 6.30pm

Refreshments on arrival.


Masterclass presentation and audience Q&A.


Exhibition viewing time.


NGV Design Store closes.

Ticket information

$90 General admission / $85 University of Melbourne alumni, staff, and students

Price covers one masterclass, including refreshments and exhibition entry, and is GST inclusive.

For accessibility information and ticketing terms and conditions, please visit our Frequently asked questions web page.

Please note, this masterclass series is now BOOKED OUT. Join the waitlist here.


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