Mummies of the World on display in Salt Lake

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Eternal life brings on a whole new meaning with the “Mummies of the World” exhibition on display at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City.

The exhibit opened Saturday, Feb. 16, and will remain on display for a 15-week engagement. As the largest and most unique display of its time, this exhibit presents a never-before-seen collection of mummies from across the world.

PR (1) Three Egyptian Heads_American Exhibitions, Inc.
These Egyptian mummy heads are part of the Mummies of the World exhibition, the largest traveling exhibition of mummies and artifacts ever assembled. Two centuries ago, Egyptian mummies were frequently cut into pieces and sold, often to tourists.(Courtesy Mathew Imaging)

Alexandria Hesse is the executive director of The Leonardo, a contemporary museum noted for combining art, science and technology.

“Perhaps one of the more important things we can learn through this technology is to connect us to one another and to make us aware of our humanity, and the Mummies of the World exhibit does that very, very beautifully,” Hesse said.

Heather Gill-Frerking, the director of science and education for “Mummies of the World” and former scientific research curator for the German Mummy Project, oversees the team that assembles the collection in every location.

Setting up the exhibit requires eight semis and a team of 15 highly trained mummy scientists over the span of 10-15 days. A great amount of care is put into assembling the display to ensure the preservation of each mummy. Once each case is assembled, it has to be set to a specific temperature and humidity level.

Because of the modern technological advances, scientists and experts have the ability to explore each mummy in noninvasive ways. Mummies are never unwrapped, but with the use of computer tomography, MRIs, DNA analysis international experts can tell the story behind their lives.

“It’s stunning to see how modern science and technology is able to reveal the stories of people who, some of them, have lived many thousands of years ago,” Gill-Frerking said. “Through science and research that is done today, we can understand their lives and understand a little bit about who they were, what they ate, what they did and how they lived and died.”

Marc Corwin, president of the Boca Raton, Florida-based American Exhibitions, Inc., is one of the leading exhibit producers for museums and science centers in the United States.

“Most people, when they think of mummies, they think of King Tut in Egypt; however, mummies come from all over the world,” Corwin said. “This is the largest collection of mummies in history to ever be assembled for display. We have mummies from South America, Oceania, Asia Europe, as well as ancient Egypt.”

The concept behind the exhibition was derived from the German Mummy Project, which worked with international teams of scientists and collaborated with 21 world-renowned museums to bring the display together.

“‘Mummies of the World’ is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see real mummies,” Corwin said. “Once it leaves the United States, it will never be assembled again.”

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