Egyptian mummies used to be among the most popular displays in British museum collections. But their days as a visitor attraction may be numbered. Increasingly they are being secreted away by curators, hidden away from the public without consultation.
In the coming year, Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery will publish its first policy specifically on the use and display of human remains. It is clear from the draft that staff are increasingly sensitive about exhibits of ancient bodies and skeletons. Recommendations include erecting signs to "alert" visitors that such material is on display – and reconsidering whether to show it at all.
Already the museum has dramatically altered what is on display. It used to present its celebrated collection of Egyptian mummies in open sarcophagi, but now keeps the lids semi-closed because, curators say, that is more respectful. Visitors are only permitted to see photographs of unwrapped mummies and they have to positively opt in to this by switching on the light.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Ideological concealment of mummies
The Independent, UK (Tiffany Jenkins)