Photos courtesy of Krista Patton Photography
The highly-anticipated Mummies of the World exhibition debuted at The Franklin Institute on Saturday, June 18th. This astonishing collection of mummies and related artifacts includes a 6,420-year-old child mummy from Peru, one of the oldest child mummies ever discovered (the Detmold Child, which is 3,000 years older than King Tut). Mummies of the World is the first exhibition of its kind to be showcased at The Franklin Institute, portraying both naturally and intentionally preserved mummies from around the world.
James Delay, Director of Exhibitions for American Exhibitions, emphasized the diversity of the mummies in the exhibit. “The exhibit aims to tell the world that not all mummies come from Egypt and not all mummies are wrapped. I think the South American collection is unbelievable; the Vac family from Hungary is fascinating. The Baron and Baroness on display here come from a crypt from a castle in Germany where the living descendents still reside. They gave us permission to have the mummies as part of the exhibit and study them. The Baron and Baroness were originally found by Napoleon’s soldiers so they have quite a history and story-as does each and every artifact we have assembled here,” said Delay.
Mummies of the World is the largest exhibition of real mummies and related artifacts ever assembled, featuring an astounding collection of 150 artifacts and real human and animal specimens from South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Egypt. Through modern science and engaging interactive and multi-media exhibits, the exhibition reveals how the scientific study of mummies provides a window into the lives of ancient people from every region of the world, offering unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations. It also demonstrates that mummification—both through natural processes and intentional practices – has taken place all over the globe, from the hot desert sands of South America to remote European moors and bogs.
In addition to the Detmold Child, the treasures presented in Mummies of the World include the Vac Mummies, a mummified family from Hungary; the Baron and Baroness, discovered in a 14th century castle in Sommersdorf; and Egyptian animal mummies, intentionally preserved to accompany royals for eternity.
The exhibition will be supported with programming throughout the run, including:
Meet a Mummyologist! – Research scientists involved in the study of mummies will be available on opening day (Saturday, June 18) within the exhibition and in the museum to discuss their specialties (for example, one specializes in peat bog mummies), and to kick off The Franklin Institute’s ongoing educational activities around mummies, including:
- Mummification Station: How does a body become a mummy? Visitors will get to look at and touch a variety of mummified frogs to explore how man-made and natural mummies are produced.
- Mummy Mystery (launches after opening weekend): Think like an archaeologist! Visitors will piece together the “story” of some newly discovered mummies using clues like location, climate, burial artifacts and MRI/CT scans.
Mummies Movie Night – The Franklin Institute will be hosting its first-ever free outdoor movie screening in August. Be there, or be mummified!
Mummies After Dark – On Friday, September 23, The Franklin Institute will host its third “TFI After Dark” event — which is an adults-only exploration of the museum. Specially programmed activities, quizzo, guests and even specialty drinks will abound in this “Mummies of the World” themed evening.
Mummies & Forensics – two great sciences that go great together! In honor of the CSI exhibit overlapping with Mummies, in October, we’re planning a fascinating glimpse into the forensics of mummy research using local forensics experts.
The concept for the exhibition began with the German Mummy Project’s re-discovery of 20 specimens within the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums of Mannheim, Germany in 2004. A consortium of mummy researchers used DNA analysis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer tomography (CT), radiocarbon dating and mass spectrometry to learn more, and engaged the cooperation of 21 world-renowned museums, organizations and collections in seven countries to make this innovative exhibition possible. “I want people to walk away from Mummies of the World saying ‘Wow, I didn’t know.’ I want people to understand that mummification happens in a combination of two ways-either intentionally like the Egyptians-or through the environment which has played a key role in mummification throughout the ages,” enthused Delay.
Individual daytime tickets for “Mummies of the World” (which include general admission to the museum) range from $19.50 to $26.50, with substantial discounts available for Franklin Institute Members. Tickets are timed and dated, and admission is 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (last entry at 3:30 p.m.); and 9:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday (last entry at 7 p.m.). The evening ticket price ($19.50 adult; $14.50 youth) does not include museum admission, and begins with the 5:00 p.m. exhibition admission. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Information and tickets are available at 1-877-TFI-TIXS, www.fi.edu. Groups of 15 or more save up to 20 percent on tickets with advanced reservations by calling 1-800-285-0684. Members can call 215.448.1231 to receive exclusively discounted tickets.
More information about the exhibition is available online: www.fi.edu/mummies.