June 16th – Covering the mummies, update

Mary Shaw, one of the previous Egypt collection assistantsThe Human Remains panel met last week and recommended a number of proposals for the display of the Egyptian human remains. The recommendations will be tabled at the next Museum management (Strategy) meeting for approval. The proposal is that the human remains on the gallery will be displayed in a number of different ways (covered, partially covered,  wrapped and uncovered) and, over the course of a year-long consultation, museum visitors will be asked to state which method they think is most appropriate.

Please come to the Museum and state your thoughts and preferences; images of the display methods will be posted on this site for those who cannot make it to the Museum.




Filed under Egyptian mummies

9 responses to “June 16th – Covering the mummies, update

  1. Hugh Polehampton

    My personal view of this proposal is that it is a muddle-a classic example it seems to me of a camel being designed by committee. The mummies were not covered up before. The covering up of them has been a new decision acted upon before the results of public consultation have been obtained. To have different ways of displaying them as part of a year long public consultation will disadvantage many people who visit over the next year and seems to me to be playing games with visitors. When the mummies are covered, many who visit from outside the local area will miss out and may not be able to visit again, children in school visits will miss what previously children experienced. Also how can a visitor in front of a covered up mummy judge if this is better than a partially covered one or uncovered one as they cannot know what their experience would have been if they had seen it uncovered. I feel that the policy of showing them uncovered should continue until public consultation has been completed and then a decision should be taken about the future. This muddled proposal allows those who want to change the uncovered policy to to get what they want in advance of public consultation and considering that there is a large body of opinion in the blogs in favour of maintaining the uncovered policy this does seem to me rather strange.

  2. karen

    plaece just uncover the mummy ?or put up a sign ?saying that the mummy’s may be grusam.

    I think that its stupid eneyway.

  3. Dave Howlett

    I visited the museum yesterday, and I believe it is a step too far to cover the mummies – especially in white covers which are jarring and do not “fit” visually with the exhibition as a whole. This is most noticeably a detriment to the egyptology exhibition in the case of the mummified child – whereas the other two mummies were displayed in some degree of context, with their sarcophagi visible, this mummy was merely covered up completely but outside of context – it might as well have been a bundle of staw covered by sheets. Furthermore, allowing the bodies to be visible would allow the public to see the skill with which these bodies have been preserved, as well as realise all the more strongly that they *are* human remains, and thus elicit a feeling of reverence which may be unconsciously lacking when no obvious signs of this fact are in evidence.

  4. I LOVE THE IDEA OF COVERING AND RAPPING THE MUMMIES AND REALLY PLACING THEM BACK IN THEIR TOMBS AS THEY ALWAYS DESIRED ,,,WHY DID THE ANCIENTS DIG SUCH DEEP TOMBS,LOTS OF MAZES OF CORRIDORS,,PUTTING THEIR MUMMIES IN MILLIONS OF BLOCKS OF STONES PYRAMIDS,,WHY DID THEY DEPICTE CURSES FORMULAS AND TEXTS TO CURSE THOSE WHO INTERRUPT THEM FROM THEIR ETERNALL SLUMBER,,,BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO BE LEFT IN PEACE,,I LED A CAMPAGIN THREE MONTH AGO CALLED BACK TO ETERNITY (CHECK MY WEB,,www.back2eternity.itgo.com..underconstruction,,,please leave them in peace,,,my final comment is,,if i ask u to see your grand grandfather body after years of his death and asked u to dig him out of his resting place for a sum of money ,,would you agree,,i think not,,please reconsider ,,,leave them in peace or at least cover them up…
    bassam el shammaa
    egyptian tour guide and author of 25 books about the ancient egyptians
    assoss. member number 1000

  5. Mike Boyes

    What on earth is the point in displaying a covered mummy? Especially with the original information boards left in place which refer to features which are no longer visible (A source of some frustration to me on my recent visit to the exhibit).

    Surely allowing people to see the remains for themselves is the best way of allowing people to appreciate that they are in the presence of something ancient, fragile and unique.

    Surely one of the purposes of public museums is to allow members of the public to see genuine artifacts with their own eyes, to foster a sense of reverence and fascination with the world. I fail to see how saying “Take our word for it, its really here, just under that cloth, honest!” achieves this.

    Bassam El Shammaa, commenting above, uses an emotive analogy which boils down roughly to “imagine if it was your great grandfather, how would you feel?” This is an utter irrelevance, given the great age of the remains. There is no one out there who can make a credible claim to be directly related to, and therefore personally wronged by the display of any of the mummies in the exhibit. Are we supposed to protect the sensibilities of relatives who have also been dead for millennia?

    I also agree with Hugh Polehampton’s objection to the decision to make changes before the results of public consultation are known. Those seeking change may well only be a tiny but vocal minority. Is it really fair to give them what they want before the wishes of the majority are known?

    If this issue requires such urgent action, why are the remains of the Lindow man on full public display in another part of the museum? Could it be that those in charge know just how uninteresting that exhibit would be if its central attraction was hidden under a linen sheet?

  6. kellie vernon

    It was with great sadness today that i took my children to see the mummies , only to find they were covered. Whilst i understand the probelms associated with the display of human remains the study of Egyptology is linked with the study of their beliefs about death and the after life . Either the museum has to remove all human remains ( as the same argument could be made of the Lindow man exibition- which was not covered) or keep them on display.To cover them still does not solve the problem which appeard to be the fact that they were uncovered in the first place. If the argument about irreverance is followed to its extent, then none of the tombs should have been excavated ( or still continue to be ) . If this were so then we would have lost so much understanding of this wonderful culture. If the mummies are on display in cairo , along with their funery artefacts without causing offense to the Egyptian people then why should this cause offence in museums else where?.
    I also agree that the consulation should have be carried out before and not after the mummies were covered . I personally have always found the mummies to inspire tremendous respect , they link us to the humanity of the past.

  7. Martin

    I have always thought that the Egyptology section of the British Museum was fundamentally disappointing, precisely because no unwrapped mummies are on view (‘Ginger’ was never wrapped). The Manchester Egyptology display always scored over the British Museum, though it is considerably smaller in extent, because it not only placed many objects in their everyday context but it had the preserved human remains on display. Giving up this considerable advantage would be quite irrational and self defeating.

    I have had the privilege of handling human remains for the extraction of ancient DNA, being peripherally involved in the search for evidence of malaria infection in populations of the distant past. Nothing approaches this sort of direct contact for allowing one to fully appreciate the humanity and direct relatedness to oneself of the people of past cultures. The nearest the general public can get to this connection is in the availability of the human remains of the historical past to be viewed. Please do not allow this avenue of enlightenment to be closed within your museum.

  8. Mollie Catherine x

    I think the mummies shuld be left rapped cos it mite b disrespectfall to thar familiess’
    coss i wudnt like it iff my mum was put on display if she died’ (TOUCHWOOD).

    So i duknoe but i wuld prefer it not on displayy’ 😦

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