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Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb
By Julie DiNisio
Starting November 19, get in touch with the three thousand year old dead at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. From this Saturday until March 2012, the museum will be displaying over one hundred Ancient Egyptian artifacts associated with burial and, of course, mummies.
Perusal of the exhibit is preceded by a 3-D short film, narrated by Patrick Stewart, on Nesperennub, an Egyptian temple priest who died about three thousand years ago. In the past, the movie informs, mummies had to be unwrapped to garner information. However, in recent years, CT scanning and 3-D visualization have replaced this damaging and invasive procedure; thus, human hands and the harsh light of an examining room have never touched the remains.
At the media preview, director Alex Nyerges (a remarkably distinguished looking man) asserted the fact that before the wildly popular Picasso exhibit, a previous Egyptian display had held the record for the most views. As Nyerges dryly put it, “There was something before Picasso, believe it or not.” Secrets of the Tomb is straight from the British Museum in London, and the VMFA is retrospectively grateful that they did not deal directly with Egyptian collectors because of the country’s recent unrest.
Dr. John Taylor, curator of the exhibit, spoke briefly before the film’s start, rhetorically asking, “What is it that sustains interest in Ancient Egypt?” His answer: mummies and “the boldness of the Egyptian assumption that they could cheat death.” He reminded the viewers that all of the artifacts served a practical purpose in burial rituals and provide a “powerful way of connecting with the distant past.”
The exhibit boasts about three or four other mummies, in addition to Nesperennub, including the tiny sarcophagus and remains of a child temple singer. Statues of deities, stone workings with well-sustained color and etchings, and informative wall mounts give museum visitors a look back and the necessary information that Egyptologists have so lovingly unearthed.
Admission to "Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb" is $15 for adults and $12 for students with an ID. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only North American venue on the tour. So while ticket prices may seem a bit pricey, it is arguably more than worth it for a once in a lifetime American opportunity.
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