For hundreds of years, mummies have inspired human curiosity and fascination. Though they died hundreds or even thousands of years ago, they seem to have an eerie immortality. "Mummies of the World," a special exhibit appearing at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City Feb. 16-May 27, 2013, brings together mummies from around the world, not just from Egypt but also from Europe, Asia, Oceania, and South America. The collection includes more than 150 objects and specimens including real human and animal mummies and related artifacts, gathered from more than 21 lending institutions and private collections. Some are intentionally mummified, while others are naturally preserved by the conditions under which they were buried.
The mummies have been studied using state-of-the-art, non-invasive techniques including MRI, DNA analysis, CT scanning, and radiocarbon dating. Researchers have pieced together details about the lives of the mummified humans, including what they ate and diseases they may have had, but mysteries remain about the lives of these ancient people.
For example, a Peruvian female mummy was buried with two children, whom researchers assumed were her offspring, but later research showed that one of the children had died 200 years later than the woman. CT scans of another mummified woman showed that she had two small objects in her hands. Researchers used the scans and a 3-D printer to recreate the objects, which turned out to be baby teeth. No one knows whether these teeth are the woman's own, or why they were placed in her hands when she was buried. Also on display is a mummified howler monkey mysteriously wearing a feathered headdress and skirt. Other mummies are less mysterious, including the Orlovitz family, discovered in a long-forgotten church crypt in Hungary in 1994, with their bodies and 18th-century clothing in a remarkable state of preservation.
"Mummies of the World" is one of the most striking and fascinating museum exhibits to visit Salt Lake City in a long time. It may be a little macabre for some people, but the mummies are treated with great respect. Check it out before it's gone, and take time to visit the Leonardo's permanent exhibits as well.
February 16, 2013 - May 27, 2013
Sunday-Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Seniors (65+): $19.50
College Student with ID: $19.50
Children (3-12): $18.00
Toddler (2 and under): FREE
Learn more about mummies from Dr. Heather Gill-Ferking, chief "Mummies of the World" researcher
Photo: This Peruvian child, naturally mummified in the hot, arid desert environment, died more than 6000 years ago. By American Exhibitions, Inc.