Update – this post contains blurred images of human remains and outdated language. We no longer use the term “mummy” and instead use “mummified human individuals” to refer to Ancient Egyptian people whose bodies were preserved for the afterlife. To read more about these changes, follow this link.
Since we opened in September 2012, visitors to the Artifact Lab have become accustomed to this view:
View into the Artifact Lab, with boards from Ahanakht’s coffin pointed out with red arrows
The shelves lining the back wall of the lab have been mostly occupied with large cedar boards from the Middle Kingdom outer coffin of Ahanakht. We’ve written about this coffin before here, here, and here, and we’ve spent a lot of time in the lab examining, conserving, and studying the boards, alongside the Curator-in-charge of the Egyptian Section Dr. David Silverman and his graduate student Leah Humphrey.
Conservator Alexis North and Dr. Silverman reviewing details of the boards captured through reflectance transformation imaging (RTI)
Last week, the scenery in here changed quite a bit, as the boards were carefully packed:
Curatorial Assistant Dr. Kevin Cahail secures one of the coffin boards to its custom-made palette in preparation for moving off-site
Large boards from Ahanakht’s coffin packed and ready to be moved off-site
Since the boards have been documented and conserved, they are moving off-site temporarily to make room for “new” things to come into the lab. These “new” pieces are actually being deinstalled from our Secrets and Science and Mummy Galleries, in order to retrofit those galleries to ensure that they will be secure during the construction project happening next door at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).
Views into the Secrets and Science gallery, before deinstallation began
Views into the Mummy Gallery, before deinstallation
Some of these objects and mummies will go back on display shortly, but need to be examined and conserved first, so they will be worked on in the Artifact Lab in the next few weeks to allow for reinstallation.
Details about the construction project at HUP and how it is affecting our museum have been described in some recent news articles, which you can find by following links that I’ve included at the end of this post.
For a couple days, the shelves in the lab were empty:
Conservator Alexis North working in the Artifact Lab with emptied shelves in the background
but we didn’t waste any time filling them back up again:
Shelves in the Artifact Lab filling up with new things
Note, this photo above was taken after day 1 of deinstallation; there will be more coming into the lab in the upcoming days.
We’ll post more about some of these “new” artifacts and mummies as we work on them in the next few weeks.
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