There are eight mummies in the exhibition. None have been unwrapped, and all retain their original portraits and mummy coverings; some remain in their coffins. They continue to be preserved in the way they were intended to be. Digital CT scans of three mummies allow visitors to see through the wrappings to view 3-D interpretations of the remains found within. (The actual bodies are not visible on the scans.)
The gilded mummies were discovered at Hawara in 1888–89 and 1910–11, at a time when Egypt was under British rule. Archaeology, while seeking to learn more about ancient peoples and culture, was nonetheless a colonial enterprise that perpetuated racist views of Egypt and Africa and promoted Eurocentric supremacy at the height of the British empire. Egyptologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie, who directed the Hawara excavations, was not only renowned for his scientific excavation methods but also was a proponent of eugenics, using prejudiced opinions to argue for racial hierarchies. The exhibition and the associated publication seek to bring these colonial and racial biases to light and help the field of Egyptology take a critical look at its past.
Please note the entire exhibition has low lighting, so please use caution. Additionally, many mummies are in floating casework in the middle of rooms. Finally, some of the films contain loud noises. Thank you for coming.