Friday, August 22, 2008

More re Manchester mummies

Thanks very much to Bob Partridge (editor of Ancient Egypt magazine) for copying me in on an update re the Manchester mummies. As I reported on on August 4th the Manchester mummies, which were covered up in May pending the outcome of a consultation re the public display of bodies, have now been uncovered. The reaction to the act of covering the mummies was immense and inspired some very useful discussion. A massive 85% of people wished to see the mummies back on display. The Museum's blog alone now has over 150 comments in response to this issue, many of them quite lengthy. The subject engaged the interest of everyone from professionals to visitors. Some of the responses were very strongly expressed.

Bob says that the Mummy of Khary (the one showing, as the Museum described it "apparent genitalia" has been uncovered and is now displayed as before. The mummy of Asru now has her head and feet uncovered, though her hands are covered.

The rare and beautifully preserved child mummy has been returned to Styonyhurst College, as it was on loan to the museum.

The debate on the subject of displaying the dead still continues and it is still possible to post comments on the Manchester Museum web site and to write to the museum in support of their action and the way the mummies are now displayed:

Bob himself has posted a response on the Manchester Museum blog supporting the Museum's decision but asking some questions about the covering of Asru's hands and the ultimate fate of the child mummy. Here's an extract, but do see Bob's post for the entire comment:

I am now pleased to see that the Museum has reacted to the many comments made both in the museum and on the museum’s web site and that two of the mummies have now been uncovered, reverting almost to the way they were displayed before.

The museum is still asking for public feedback, which is good and there is the implication that the display might still change depending on the reaction. I have one concern here, in that people tend not to necessarily comment or react to displays that they are happy with and that any feed-back received from now on, might be biased in favour of those who do not like mummies on display.

Personally I would like to see than hands of Asru uncovered if at all possible, for, with no suitable explanation, or photo of the mummy on display, it is clear from my recent visit to the museum that visitors are now wondering what the large lump under the wrappings are (Asru’s hands are in front of her body, but few visitors will know this).

I also think it is a great shame that the museum has now lost the child mummy from Stoneyhurst College.

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