A dark room filled with nameless corpses might not seem like a great place to spend an afternoon. But paired with unique coffins, intricate Graeco-Egyptian portraits and gold-coated bandages, the Buffalo Museum of Science offers an exciting and insightful experience.
The Golden Mummies of Egypt’s world premiere Saturday welcomed coffins, corpses and culture to Buffalo. The display, on tour from the Manchester Museum’s world-class collection, features a series of mummies and artifacts from the Graeco-Roman period of Egyptian culture. The artifacts date as far back as 332 B.C.E. and are combined with an enticing mix of immersive technology that connects the ancient and modern worlds.
Next to the mummies’ display cases are interactive touchscreens where visitors can view all the hidden layers of mummified humans. A CT scan process reveals never-before-seen features of ancient remains, including the withered flesh and bones of the nameless Egyptians unveiled at the exhibition. The exhibit also features several small screening rooms that play short films explaining Egyptian cultural practices and mythological beliefs.
Traditional Egyptian mummies are often remembered as goofy, white bandage-clad figures or grand sarcophagi that emulate one of the many gods of Egyptian mythology.
But this collection offers something different.
Instead of what can be seen on Scooby-Doo, these mummies feature haunting Graeco-Roman-style portraits that decorate the front coffin panel, personifying the lifeless bodies that lie beneath the glass display cases.
Amy Biber Collson, Buffalo Museum of Science director of external relations, stressed the importance of visitors understanding the history and culture that the ancient remains carry.
“When you come into this exhibit, you’re going to see artifacts from the specific Graeco-Roman time,” said Collson said. “They don’t all look alike, and that’s because of this melting pot of culture that is happening during this time period. So you’re going to see that story told throughout the exhibit.”
Two of the mummies featured have their portraits still intact on the front of their tomb. This is the case for only 98 other mummies in the world.
There are also a series of artifacts and sarcophagi that demonstrate the range of culture that existed throughout Ancient Egypt during the Graeco-Roman period, including lavishly painted cases, stone engraved tablets, ancient children’s toys and gold-coated head-masks.
“I think the intricate artwork is what gets me,” said visitor and Western New York community member Tracy Field. “I like to think that someone actually sat there with that in their hands and worked on that, you know, intended for someone’s death.”
Locals who came out were also pleased that world-renowned pieces from all over the globe had made their way to Buffalo. Attendees recognized the potential for historical exhibitions like Golden Mummies of Egypt to shine a light on Western New York’s cultural significance.
“We’ve got some of the best art and architecture in the country,” said museum-goer and Buffalo resident Leadlay Ogden. “We’ve got a lot of history right here that a lot of people just don’t know about, so keeping people interested in history is great.”
The Golden Mummies of Egypt will remain open to the public at Buffalo’s Museum of Science through Sunday June 21. Adult tickets are available for $19 while children (ages 2+), seniors, students and military can view the marvelous mummies for $16.
The arts desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org