Mummies

Category: Exhibitions

Exhibition Summary

Requires All-Access or Discovery Pass

Closes Apr 21, 2019

All ages

Requires All-Access or Discovery Pass

Closes Apr 21, 2019

All ages

About the Exhibit

Learn about ancient life through bodies preserved in death.

In Mummies, uncover the lives of the people inside—from their families, work, and religious beliefs, to the objects they chose to bring into the afterlife.

This extraordinary exhibition features mummies from ancient Peru and Egypt. Made up entirely of objects from our collection, the exhibition includes 14 mummies, intricately decorated coffins and mummy masks, ceramic items, and mummified animals. Seeing ancient Peruvian and Egyptian mummies in the same space brings to light the differences and similarities between these cultures. 

Using non-invasive CT scanning and other cutting-edge technologies, our scientists can digitally peer through layers dating back thousands of years to reveal the human lives behind the gilded coffins and once-mysterious bundles. Explore their discoveries firsthand through interactive touch tables. These mummies paint a rich picture of people from a different time—and the cultures that lived on after their deaths.

The exhibition is presented in both English and Spanish. La exhibición está presentada en inglés y español.

No alt exists for this image

An intricately wrapped, mummified baby crocodile was buried in an ancient Egyptian tomb as an offering.

John Weinstein

Figurines like this one were likely buried as grave offerings with the mummified remains of loved ones in the Chancay culture of Peru 1,000 years ago.

John Weinstein

Gain an understanding of life after death in ancient Egypt and Peru through artifacts of their pasts.

Exhibition highlights:

  • A stunning sculptural recreation of the famed Egyptian “Gilded Lady”
  • Peruvian mummy bundles, some with more than one person inside
  • Animal mummies, from cats to crocodiles
  • Interactive touch tables to explore detailed 3D images of the persons and objects inside mummies
  • Objects used in rituals and offerings, including decorated ancient Peruvian beer pots
A man and child gaze through a CT scanner’s circular opening to view a replica mummy lying on a white table inside the machine.

CT technology is used to study what is inside ancient mummies without disturbing their contents. This CT scanner and replica mummy are on display in the exhibition.

Martin Baumgaertner

Technology has changed how we look at mummies

When the mummies in this exhibition entered our collection 100 years ago, researchers could only guess at what was inside them—or risk damaging the contents by unwrapping or cutting into them.

Today, CT scanning and other non-invasive technologies allow us to study mummies with respect for the individuals and their cultures. Intricate CT scan images can tell us much more about the lives of the people now preserved as mummies.

3D data comes to life in realistic sculptures by French artist Élisabeth Daynès, who created lifelike renderings to depict what these people looked like when they were alive. 

Thanks to these tools, we now know that one ancient Egyptian mummy from 2,000 years ago was a woman with curly hair and a slight overbite, who died in her 40s. Another mummy bundle, which contains an ancient Andean mother and two small children, includes goods they would have used like food and weaving spindles. 

By using these technologies, we can see the individual people inside the mummies, gaining a better understanding of who they were as humans and of the cultures in which they lived. 

Discover More At The Field