Fascinating Mummies is a newly installed exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland. It’s tucked away in gallery 1 on the third level of the building. This means if you enter from the new main entrance on the corner you have a bit of a walk to get to it – but head for the established Egyptian display area and you should find it.
The Mummies exhibit is not free but it is less than £10 for adults.
A key part of the exhibit is the secrets of the Rhind Mummy. The mummy is named after the Scottish archaeologist Alexander Rhind who excavated it in 1857. The mummy has never been unwrapped but with this exhibit we get to see inside the outer shell thanks to medical CT scans.
In fact, a theme of Fascinating Mummies is the meeting of science and archaeology. We get to discover how the Egyptians developed the mummification process as well as the evolution of their tombs. They stopped building pyramids due to security concerns and moved on to secret burials in the side of valleys (think Valley of the Kings) with the monument for the deceased conspicuously built far away from the actual site.
Another main area of the exhibit is an audio visual presentation about the life of Ankhhor, a high priest of Thebes, living at about 650BC. This presentation, like the Rhind Mummy, is in the second half or even the last third of the exhibit and this is the busiest part of the walk through.
The exhibit seems family friendly enough – there are small seats for children and even a giant jigsaw area. However, parents will really have to judge whether or not the displays will hold attention and command respect. This is a whisper style exhibit and although there were many children for our visit they were keeping their voices down.
It’s also worth noting that you can get right up to actual mummies. These are, after all, dead bodies. While this is fascinating chance for any adult interested in Egyptology and such opportunities are rare – it might be all too much if the penny drops for certain children.
Is the Fascinating Mummies exhibit worth the entrance fee?
Yes, of course. This is a rare chance to get close to some very real antiquities. The sort of items on display here are those which include the word “allegedly” in the description of how the museum came to have them. That’s the sort of exhibit item that is at risk of vanishing behind legal papers where it may not be seen for years.