“Egyptian mummies: Exploring ancient lives” is the North American premiere of an exhibition created by the British Museum. Using digital image projections, explanatory videos and over two-hundred objects from ancient Egypt, it “reconstructs the lives of six people who lived along the Nile”. It tells the story of each of those individuals, their beliefs and the diseases they suffered from.
The original British Museum exposition (opened to the public from May to November 2014) was showcasing eight mummies, one-tenth of their Egyptian mummies’ collection. However, for its international tour the exhibition was limited to six mummies. It first opened at the The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia (from December 2016 to Avril 2017) before moving to Hong Kong in 2017, then Taipei, Taiwan (from November 2017 to February 2018) and it is now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal from September 2019 to March 2020. The next stop will be in Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum from May to September 2020.
In the early days of Egyptology, the only way to learn about mummies was to unwrap them. 19th century European collectors were even turning this into a social event with lavish “unwrapping parties.” However, the British Museum, with its strong ethics about artifact preservation, always refused to perform any invasive intervention on its mummies and its collection is therefore in excellent condition. Since the 1970s the development of cutting-edge technology, like combining x-ray devices with high-resolution three-dimensional computerized imaging (computerized tomography (CT) scanning) in order to create detailed 3D visualizations of the internal structures, has revealed much more informations that a simple unwrapping would have provided — while still preserving the mummies’ integrity. Combining the resources provided by medical science with those learned from anthropology and archaeology, has allowed the egyptologists to learn a tremendous amount of information about the life and death of ancient Egyptians: not only their culture and way of life, but also their biology, genetics, diet, diseases, burial practices and embalming techniques. This exhibition is illustrating all this through the exemples of six in dividuals (and their mummies) who lived in the Nile valley between 900 BCE and 180 CE.
Apparently the only official catalogue of the exhibition’s international tour was produced by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and is now sold out. However, the catalogue from the original British Museum exhibition is still available.
It is a superb and fascinating exhibition, rich in informations and artifacts. I enjoyed it greatly and everyone must absolutely see it. When I visited, in early January, the museum was packed (so, PLEASE don’t bring your five or six year-old Kids, as they might not be old enough to understand the complexity of such subject, and don’t bring your crying baby in its giant stroller !!!).
Here’s a teaser of the exhibition (available on Youtube):
More information and pictures after the jump >>