The Leonardo is presenting the nationally recognized “Mummies of the World” exhibition which gives SLCC students an opportunity to visit a rarely seen collection of mummies from around the world including, Egypt, Asia, South America, and Europe.
“I have always wanted to go to Egypt so for me the best part was seeing the different mummies,” says Sarah Florreich, a SLCC freshman who visited the exhibit. “I was surprised by how well preserved they were.”
The Mummies of the World exhibit has a collection of over 150 mummies and specimens and is the largest exhibition of both animal and human mummies ever displayed in one place. The exhibit shows how the mummification process works both through intentional practice and natural process. It provides a glimpse into not only the lives of ancient people but into their practices and customs as well.
The Leonardo is always on the lookout for blockbuster exhibitions and being able to host the Mummies of the World exhibit was quite a catch for the museum. Its opening weekend was the most successful exhibit in the museum’s history according to Bryton Sampson, Communication Director for the Leonardo, with whom the Globe conducted an email interview.
“Most people think of mummies coming from Egypt, intentionally mummified, and wrapped in linen,” says Sampson.
“The exhibition does feature a large Egyptian collection, but there are also mummies from around the globe, many of them naturally preserved.”
In addition to its Egyptian collection the exhibit also presents a family of mummies from Hungary, a centuries old mummy from Peru that was naturally mummified in the desert air and is covered with unidentified tattoos, an Argentine howler monkey still dressed in a skirt and headdress, and a 14th century German nobleman found in a crypt still wearing his almost perfectly preserved leather boots.
“I really like the mummy from Peru that was like 6,000 years old,” says Florreich. “I hope I can look that good if I ever live that long.” The aforementioned mummy is “Detmold Child”, a 6,420 year-old Peruvian mummy that dates 3,000 years before King Tut and is the main attraction of the exhibit.
“There are a lot of educational layers to the exhibit, which is the reason I love it so much,” says Sampson. “From an anthropological standpoint, there is so much these mummies can teach us about past cultures, many of which have long since vanished. Even the story of how the exhibition came together, for example how a South American mummy ended up in the basement of a museum in Germany, is fascinating.”
Students can explore the scientific study of mummies and learn about how current techniques have revealed important details about past cultures and ancient people. The exhibit explores how long these people lived, what kind of diseases they may have had and even what sort of foods they ate. The various personal artifacts that were found with the mummies are displayed in the exhibit and give insight into their lifestyle and belief structure.
“I would definitely recommend this to other students because you might never get to travel the world and see these mummies in person,” says Florreich. “It’s pretty neat to be able to see ancient history right here in Salt Lake.”