Mummies of the World

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I stopped by the Maryland Science Center this morning to preview their new exhibition, Mummies of the World. My younger daughter is mummy-obsessed, which might be a little unique for an 8 year-old girl. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the source of the attraction – history, science, the general creep-factor? In any case, this show is a must-see for our whole family.

By the way, I put the nice Egyptian art at the top of this post. If you don't want to see what the mummies look like, don't scroll down. 

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On the other hand, I do think some kids might be frightened by this show. Almost all of the 40+ mummies on display are not wrapped. You can see details that are amazingly well-preserved. Fingers, toes, a tattoo, and even eyelashes. And these are very real people. They are presented respectfully, but very up-close and at times it feels a little intimate. There are stories to accompany the mummies, like the Orlovits family – Michael, Veronica and their son Johannes. They were part of a group of mummies found in a long forgotten crypt in Vac, Hungary, complete with name cards. I met with “mummyologist” Heather Gill-Frerking, a biological anthropologist and she describes the mummies as “adorable,” as does my sweet Emma, so maybe it is all in the eye of the beholder. I like Dr. Gill-Frerking’s take on bringing kids. “People know their kids. They know what they like.” She adds, “I can’t tell you how many nose prints we clean off the glasses.”

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There is a lot to learn here. How are mummies made? How did these people live? What diseases did they have? What can we learn from their DNA? So many things.

My big lesson? How bog bodies are made. Emma is fascinated by bog bodies and Dr. Gill-Frerking is an expert. According to Dr. Gill-Frerking, bogs are very good for preserving skin, and fur, and fabric, but terrible for bones. More water actually preserves the bodies better. Bogs are acidic so they leach the minerals from the bone. The bone gets very soft and can be squished flat by the weight of the overlying peat. See, you learn something new every day.

The show opens to the public September 28, 2013 and runs until January 20, 2014.