Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mummy on display for first time since 1952

New York Times

WHEN it comes to names for Egyptian mummies, there’s no question that Anonymous Man lacks the royal heft of, say, King Tutankhamun. Even the Anonymous Man’s nickname, Melvin, isn’t quite a head turner.

Even so, as crowds swarm the mummy-less exhibition of treasures of the predictably famous King Tut at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, Melvin the Mummy has a good story to tell. The tale is noteworthy for his recent and innovative restoration — basically an extreme mummy makeover — and his harrowing and unlikely 1,700-year journey from ancient Egypt to a 21st-century exhibition vitrine in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Museum is currently displaying Melvin for the first time since he entered its collection in 1952. He has been cleaned up, rewrapped and is stretched out beneath his boldly painted cartonnage, or decorative covering — he looks a bit like a Byzantine Jesus graced with Groucho Marx eyebrows — as part of “The Mummy Chamber.” The 170-work exhibition is dedicated to the artifacts of the afterlife and is scheduled to be on long-term view.

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