Mummy exhibition in Hong Kong for 20th handover anniversary shows life in ancient Egypt
The theme is eternal life, with 200 cultural relics from the British Museum
Hongkongers will have their first and perhaps only chance in decades to view six Egyptian mummies from the British Museum starting Friday as they might be “retired” soon after finishing a global tour, a local curator has said.
The exhibition titled “Eternal Life: Exploring Ancient Egypt” is to run at the Science Museum until October and feature around 200 Egyptian cultural relics, ranging from ancient Egyptian children’s clothes to protective amulets and jewels placed on the mummies’ bodies.
Science museum curator Chan Shuk-man said the six mummies would go on “a global exhibition tour” after first stopping in Hong Kong. She noted the preserved bodies “might be ‘retired’ very soon after” the tour.
Chan said that as mummies cannot be transported frequently between locations, the mysterious and fragile ancient bodies would have to be returned to the British Museum within three years.
“They might not be available for display for at least 20 years after this tour,” she added.
To better preserve the mummies, the humidity and temperature at the exhibition hall at the museum in Tsim Sha Tsui was due to be controlled at 40 per cent and below 20 degrees Celsius respectively.
The six mummies each tell a story, representing the lives of a married woman, a temple singer, a chantress, a young man from Roman Egypt, a young child, and a priest. The six lived between 900BC and AD180 in different parts of ancient Egypt.
Using non-invasive technologies such as the latest in CT scans normally reserved for examining brains, British Museum researchers were able to produce three-dimensional replicas of amulets that were then put inside the mummies’ wrappings without touching or damaging the bodies.
“All the images you see at the exhibition are based on data,” said Daniel Antoine, a British Museum curator in charge of the establishment’s human remains.
It took museum staff thousands of hours to separate the layers of data, he added. “We wanted to bring the public as close as possible to the actual living conditions of people at the time.”
The science museum has set up a multimedia programme, interactive exhibits, 3D projection mapping, as well as virtual reality and holograms to illustrate for visitors what it was like to be an ancient Egyptian.
Chan said some 250,000 people were projected to visit the exhibition, which is part of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese rule. The exhibition runs from June 2 to October 18.