Origins of the Exhibit: Assembling the largest mummy exhibition in the world

Origins of the Exhibit: Assembling the largest mummy exhibition in the world

Mummies of the World, the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts ever assembled, made its world debut at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on July 1, 2010. Opening June 14, 2013 at OMSI (The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry) in Portland, Ore., this groundbreaking exhibition bridges the gap between past and present, showing how science can shed light on history and cultures around the world. Featuring a never-before-seen collection of 150 objects and specimens, including real human and animal mummies and related artifacts from South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Egypt, Mummies of the World also demonstrates that mummification – both through natural and intentional processes – has taken place all over the globe, from the hot desert sands of South America to remote European moors and bogs. 

 
The concept for the exhibition began with the German Mummy Project’s rediscovery of 20 specimens within the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums of Mannheim, Germany in 2004. Researchers, using modern scientific methods to learn who these mummies were and where they came from, attracted the interest of other researchers, and a consortium of world-renowned scientists known as the German Mummy Project (GMP) was born. Their studies and research comprise the largest mummy research project in the world, the results of which are presented in the Mummies of the World exhibition, made possible through the collaboration of 21 world-renowned museums, organizations and collections from seven countries. The exhibition was prepared in accordance with all recommendations of the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) code of
ethics.
 
Mummies of the World is a fascinating mix of old and new, including engaging interactive multi-media exhibits that illustrate how current science tools enable us to study mummies in new and non-invasive ways, allowing unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations. Mummies of the World demonstrates real advances in the scientific methods in which mummies are studied, including Computer Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating, all of which allow researchers to learn about the lives, history, and cultures of the mummies. The breathtaking exhibition offers visitors state-of-the-art multimedia and hands-on interactive stations, transforming audiences into amateur “mummyologists™” as they learn how mummies are created, where they come from and who they were. Some of the most fascinating aspects of Mummies of the World include:
  • The Detmold Child, a Peruvian child mummy in a remarkable state of preservation, radiocarbon dated back 6,420 years – about 3,000 years before the birth of King Tut;
  • The Orlovits family, Michael, Veronica and their son Johannes – who are part of a group of 18th-century mummies discovered in a long-forgotten church crypt in Vác, Hungary in 1994;
  • Baron von Holz, a 17th-century nobleman believed to have died in or near Sommersdorf, Germany during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), discovered by descendants of his relatives in the crypt of the family’s late 14th-century castle;
  • The sarcophagus and mummy of an Egyptian man named Nes-pa-qa-shuti, dating back to about 650 B.C., found in a necropolis at Akhmim, an important site in Egypt with ties to the royal families;
  • South American mummies including a Pre-Columbian woman found in the Peruvian desert, dating to about 1400 A.D.; a Chilean man found in the Atacama Desert, believed to be the driest desert on earth; and a woman and two children found in the Andes region;
  • Complete and partial Egyptian mummies, illustrating both how people were mummified and how the dead were treated;
  • Animal mummies including a howler monkey from Argentina; a lizard mummified in the Sahara desert; and bird, dog, fish and reptile mummies;
  • Artifacts including South American burial objects; Egyptian salts and resins used in the mummification process; fragments of an Egyptian Book of the Dead; and more.
More information about Mummies of the World: www.mummiesoftheworld.com.
 
About American Exhibitions
American Exhibitions, Inc. produces world-class touring exhibitions for science centers and museums that excite, educate, and engage visitors. As a longstanding member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the American Association of Museums (AAM), American Exhibitions, Inc. is one of the leading exhibit producers in the United States. For more information, visit www.americanexhibitions.com.
 
About Reiss-Engelhorn Museums
Reiss-Engelhorn Museums, an internationally acclaimed museum complex in Mannheim, Germany, is one of the major venues for exhibitions in Europe in the fields of archeology and world cultures. With a collection that began in the early 1700s, the museum houses more than 1.2 million objects in its collection, and has over 300,000 square feet of exhibition space. For more information, visit www.rem-mannheim.de/.