Egyptian Mummies and Eternal Life
Feb 22-Jun 21, Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer Street
For years, Jeff Gray, curator of visitor experiences and exhibits, was trying to bring an exhibition on ancient Egypt to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. At the same time, the Museo Egizio in Florence, Italy, was trying to get its exhibition on ancient Egyptian funeral practices across the Atlantic. The two crossed paths and voila! Egyptian Mummies and Eternal Life is making its North American debut here in Halifax this Saturday, February 22. Haligonians will be the first people on the continent to discover, explore and learn about this varied collection of over 100 original ancient artifacts.
"It really is about the artifacts," says Gray. "And it's about people having an opportunity to see something that, really, you don't ever get to see, and certainly in Halifax or Atlantic Canada because there aren't permanent Egyptian exhibits."
Gray is excited to host this exhibition, and he's excited about how people will react to the artifacts, both big and small.
1 "There is a sarcophagus that is open, and the lid is shown separately, and it shows the decoration on the inside and outside," explains Gray about this carved and painted wood sarcophagus that belonged to a priest named Padimut. "I'm excited about that because, knowing where it's going to be placed in the exhibit, visitors are going to come around the corner and then see it. And I think that moment is going to be really great for a lot of our visitors."
2 Of course, the sarcophagus, no matter how beautiful, is only the container. "Obviously," says Gray, "the opportunity to see real mummies is probably the top on many people's lists." Those people definitely won't be disappointed. There are real live (or, well, real dead) mummies in this exhibit. There's a mummified head, a mummified hand and a complete mummified body of a woman—there's even a mummified baby.
3 "But I think what a lot of people may end up remembering is a lot of the smaller pieces like the jewelry, the items from people's homes and those sort of everyday items that are also part of this exhibit," says Gray about the scarab rings and other things that were buried with the dead for their importance in the the afterlife. He adds, "I think that those things may end up resonating with visitors."