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Mummies at The Leonardo

Mummies at The Leonardo
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After seeing the Mummies Of The World Exhibit at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City last Saturday, I cannot express how educational and informative this was!

We took our nine year old and seven year old, and they were fascinated. Our seven year old had a little bit of a hard time sleeping that night at bedtime because the images of mummies kept going through his head, but other than that he did fine. Our nine year old is learning about mummies in school, so this was perfect for her! She already knew many of the facts, and enjoyed telling us about them as we walked through the exhibit. If you are going to take your children, I suggest you talk to them about mummies and prepare them for what they are about to see. There is a video on the Mummies Of The World website that you can watch with them beforehand to prepare them for the mummies they will be seeing. Know your children and what information and images they are able to handle and process.

What are mummies?

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When most of us think of mummies, we think of bodies from ancient Egypt that are wrapped in linens from head to toe, and placed in a sarcophagus. We often forget about those mummies that are mummified naturally due to climate and temperature. A mummy is the dead body of an animal or a human that has been preserved after death so that it does not decompose. To be considered a mummy and not just a skeleton, the body must keep some of its soft tissue, such as hair, skin or muscles.

Many of the mummies on exhibit at Mummies Of The World are naturally mummified. Visitors to the exhibit can also see animal mummies, such as the howler monkey.

“We are excited to bring Mummies of the World to Salt Lake City,” said Marc Corwin, president of American Exhibition, Inc. “Most people think mummies come from Egypt and are wrapped, but mummies come from all over the world. The exhibition is changing centuries-old perceptions about what the general public thinks about mummies and providing insight into the lives and cultures of these ancient people. Inside every mummy is a story waiting to be told, and Mummies of the World is here to tell those stories.”

Corwin hopes that the three-year run of Mummies of the World will “show the world that real mummies are beautiful, compelling and a rare find.” Through the exhibition, he aims to educate museum goers about both the mummies themselves and their origins, cultures and the world that they lived in.

How did the exhibit come about?

The Mummies of the World exhibit began with a mysterious and rare find of 20 human mummies hidden in the basement of the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums in Mannheim, Germany in 2004. The mummies were thought to have been destroyed or lost during World War II. This discovery prompted the most important research project ever undertaken with regard to mummies. An international team of scientists studied the mummies, which is now known as the German Mummy Project. It is the largest mummy research project in the world. The results of their research and studies are presented in Mummies of the World exhibition, made possible through the collaboration of 21 world-renowned museums, organizations and collections from seven countries.

Our favorite mummies on exhibit:

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The Detmold Child is one of the most fascinating mummies in the exhibit, and is believed to have lived somewhere between 4504 and 4457 B.C., which would make it 3,000 years older than King Tut, and approximately 6,420 years old! The child was found in a burial pose typical of the region and culture of Peru, representing further scientific proof that mummification took place in South America before Egypt.

In 1892, Dr. E. Gaffron from Berlin, Germany practiced medicine in Lima, Peru until 1912. While there, he built up a collection of pre-Columbian objects. In 1909, Dr. Gaffron’s wife donated most of his collection to the natural-scientific society in her home town of Detmold, Germany. The Detmold Child is believed to have been part of that collection, and remained undisturbed and untested for the last 95 years.

Using non-invasive techniques, such as CT scans, to study The Detmold Child, researchers have found that he/she suffered from a very rare congenital heart malformation, as well as a pulmonary infection that could have been caused by tuberculosis. Fabric scraps found on the child’s shoulder and a deformation of the child’s skull make this a particularly interesting mummy to study.

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Both of my kids were especially interested in the “mummy family”, as they called it. The Orlovits family is part of a group of 18th-century mummies discovered in Vac, Hungary, in 1994. Reconstruction of parts of a Dominican church just north of Budapest uncovered two long-forgotten burial crypts dating back to 1674 and sealed in 1838.

Michael (born 1765) and Veronica Orlovits (born 1770) and their son Johannes (born 1800) were among those mummified naturally due to the cool, dry air of the crypt and the oil from the pine boards used to build their coffins. All three are displayed in the Mummies of the World exhibit. A total of 265 naturally mummified bodies were found in the same crypt. The Orlovits family is on loan from the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest.

I was fascinated by a woman mummy that had two children buried next to her. It was amazing to look at these mummies and wonder who they were, what they were like, and what kind of lives they lived. Were these children hers? How did they die, and why were they buried together?

Another woman mummy was buried with child’s teeth in her hands. Were they her teeth? Who placed them there? Were they the teeth of her children? It’s amazing to look at the mummies on exhibit and know that they were once living, breathing being like us with lives, families, and personalities.

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What you need to know before visiting:

  • There are no cameras allowed, so please leave them at home. You are even required to turn off your cell phone upon entering the exhibit.
  • If you are going to take your children, I suggest you talk to them about mummies and prepare them for what they are about to see. There is a video on the Mummies Of The World website that you can watch with them beforehand to prepare them for the mummies they will be seeing. Know your children and what information and images they are able to handle and process.
  • Because of the nature and mystery of this exhibit, it can get quite crowded. Please allow plenty of time to browse the exhibit and see each and every mummy. If you see a crowd at one mummy, move on to another mummy, and come back to that mummy after the crowd moves on. If the crowd doesn’t die down, just wait patiently. You are going to want to see each and every mummy at the exhibit!
  • Read the information on plaques next to each mummy and artifact! This is valuable information that will allow you to appreciate the exhibit even more!

Ticket prices and discounts:

Because this is an expensive exhibit to bring to Utah, it is not included in regular admission price to The Leonardo. Please verify current information on The Leonardo website. Prices subject to change without notification:

$22.50 Adult (ages 18-64)

$18.00 Child (ages 3-12)

$19.50 Senior (ages 65+)

$19.50 Youth (ages 13-17)

$19.50 Student (Valid ID required)

$19.50 Military (Valid ID required)

FREE for Toddler (ages 2 and under)

For Member pricing or discounts please contact a Museum attendant at 801.531.9800, ext. 202.

For Groups of 15 or more, please contact Melissa Cecala at 801.531.9800, ext. 133.

Discount tickets can also be picked up at participating Whole Foods markets. People Water and The Leonardo offers $3 off of the Mummies of the World Exhibition (Now Open) with a purchase of a bottle of People Water. See displays in each of the four Utah Whole Foods stores.

Go to The Leonardo website for information on booking a large group for a field trip.

For more discounts and up to the date information, follow The Leonardo on Facebook.

Where / When can I see Mummies of the World?

The Mummies of the World exhibit is now open at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City until May 27, 2013. The Leonardo is located in downtown Salt Lake City at 209 East 500 South. Exhibit hours are Sunday through Wednesday 10am to 5pm, and Thursday through Saturday 10am to 10pm.

About Mummies of the World

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Mummies of the World is the largest traveling exhibition ever assembled of mummies and artifacts, featuring 150 never-before-seen real human and animal mummies and objects from South America, Europe, Asia, Oceana, and Egypt. The exhibition was developed by American Exhibitions, Inc., in association with the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum (REM). For more information: (Photo credit: American Exhibitions, Inc.)

With its astounding collection of 150 specimens and objects, Mummies of the World is the largest exhibition of real human and animal mummies and related artifacts ever assembled. Through modern science and engaging interactive and multi-media exhibits, the exhibition reveals how the scientific study of mummies provides a window into the lives of ancient people, offering unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations. It also demonstrates that mummification – both through natural processes and intentional practices – has taken place all over the globe, from the hot desert sands of South America to remote European bogs.

About The Leonardo

“The Leonardo has the unique ability and mission of bringing major educational experiences like Mummies of the World to the people of Utah and the Intermountain West,” said Alexandra Hesse, executive director of The Leonardo. “Thanks to modern tools from biology and chemistry, medical imaging, DNA science and even 3D animation, young people and adults will gain a deeper understanding of people, cultures and environments of the past. In doing so, we hope to instill a sense of curiosity and wonder in each visitor.”

About Merit Medical, theMummies of the Worldsponsor in Salt Lake City:

“Supporting The Leonardo in bringing Mummies of the World to this community is a natural fit for Merit Medical,” said Fred Lampropoulos, CEO of the company, which develops, manufactures and distributes medical devices. “The continued success of our business depends on a well-educated local workforce. By supporting unique educational experiences that inspire young people to explore careers in science and technology, we are enriching our community, and stepping up as a corporate citizen. We appreciate this opportunity to give back.”

I was provided with a family pass for four to attend this event. I was not compensated for my time, nor was I required or persuaded to write any specific type of review. The opinions and views expressed in this review are all my own.

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