Meet he mummies

. January 31, 2013.

he Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) has pulled out all the stops with another fantastic exhibit—the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of life some 5,000-6,000 years ago in the time of ancient Egypt.  For a limited time the mummies, obtained in 1905-1906 by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Drummond Libbey, are again on display at the museum as part of the Egypt Experience: Secrets of the Tomb exhibit. Visitors young and old will find the exhibit fascinating and well thought-out. They will leave with a richer understanding of the lives and stories surrounding the mummies as well as several other royal and non-royal ancient Egyptians.
Humanizing the mummies
Scientific and cultural discussions have taken place across the globe regarding the respectful treatment of human remains. With that in mind, the museum exhibit helps the viewer understand the ancient Egyptians’ belief in the afterlife and their extensive preparation rites after death. Replicas of tombs as well as over 150 artifacts are displayed in the context of the social and religious beliefs of ancient Egypt. According to Kelly Garrow, TMA’s Director of Communications, one of the museum’s goals was to respect who the mummies were as people, which is why their stories are told in first person narratives throughout the exhibit. 
An exhibit for all
One may wonder if an exhibit filled with so much history and information would be too much for children to grasp.  A recent visit to the museum with my family, and talking with many of the families in attendance that day, answered that question.
Children will most definitely find something that interests them. Depending on a child’s age, it may be the objects placed in the tombs, or the many sculptures, carvings, or paintings on display. Children will leave with a better understanding of the history and stories behind each mummy as well as the other ancient Egyptians highlighted in the exhibit.  They will learn about the lives they led and the cultural beliefs that were observed in Egypt for thousands of years. Sure, the excitement of seeing mummies topped the list for many kids, but they found much more that also intrigued them.
The exhibit begins with an informative 13 minute video presentation that brings ancient Egypt to life for the viewer, providing insight into how ancient Egyptians  interpreted life, death, and rebirth in relation to their natural environment. It’s just long enough to keep the attention of the audience, and sets the stage for the unique exhibit you are about to enter. During the exhibit’s installation the gallery spaces morphed into something quite fitting for the theme, “Secrets of the Tomb.” “We thought the closed nature of the gallery spaces worked well with the tombs,” said Garrow. Additional artifacts and displays are presented room by room.  
Computers attract kids like magnets. So it’s guaranteed they will enjoy independently maneuvering the touch screen computer adjacent to the first mummy on display. They can view x-rays of the various parts of the mummies that were taken at Toledo Hospital in 1997, and also learn about the forensic results that provide information about gender, age, and much more.
Precaution for little ones
Parents should note that the first mummy seen in the exhibit is partially exposed. Therefore, views are seen from the top of the display case. “You can actually see the facial features and part of the actual body,” said Garrow. Parents will notice a sign posted nearby explaining this. “We wanted to be sensitive to families by giving parents the choice as to whether or not to show their kids,” added Garrow.  
The exhibit opened October 29, 2010, and runs through Spring 2011. Events for patrons of all ages as well as various hands-on activities and crafts in The Family Center will be offered in conjunction with the Egypt Experience. “The goal is to do Egyptian programming through the run of the exhibition,” said Garrow. She encourages visitors to check the website,, periodically to view the calendar of events, or contact the museum directly.
The exhibit is free for TMA members, or $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for students, and children under 6 are free. Younger children have their fill of the exhibit after 45 minutes to an hour. However, there is much to see and read about, and one could easily spend well beyond an hour.