“Mummies of the World” comes to Utah

You enter a darkened room, voices hushed, and the atmosphere still. You can see indigo light sparkling on the floor as the heavy black curtain sways back and forth. A video begins to play reminding you that “all the human mummies in the exhibition are real and were once living people with families and friends. These people lived their lives differently than we do today, but they are human beings and must be treated with dignity and respect in their death.”

The video ends and the large curtain to your right opens to reveal a haunting, yet intriguing, spectacle. The “Mummies of the World” exhibit.

The Leonardo, a Salt Lake City art and science museum, opened “Mummies of the World” last Saturday, and it will remain open until May 27.

Mummies of the World Day 2“Mummies of the World” is the largest exhibition of mummies and mummy artifacts ever collected. The exhibit features mummies from Asia, Egypt, Europe, Oceania and South America that have been both naturally and artificially mummified. Through modern technologies, scientists are able to learn about ancient cultures and civilizations.

Each mummy carries a story, and those stories, silenced for thousands of years, are now being retold. With the use of non-evasive MRIs and CT scans, the worlds of these mummies are becoming more vivid. Scientists can now decipher information like what a person’s diet consisted of, how old a person was and what time of year the person died.

“My favorite part about the exhibit was that you were able to learn so much about their life because their bodies were preserved after death,” said Steven Borg, who attended “Mummies of the World” on Sunday. “It’s almost like they came back to life.”

Lisa Davis, the Leonardo spokesperson, said the highest ethical standards are adhered to when working with the mummies. Every effort is made to ensure each mummy is displayed as it was found. Some of the mummies were draped in cloth when discovered, and although it is not known why, they remain draped in cloth while on display in order to maintain respect.

Wandering through the darkened rooms of the exhibit, one cannot help but notice that some mummies are completely clothed, and some are baring every inch of their bodies. Some were intentionally mummified, while others were naturally preserved by their environment. Each mummy is different, which begs so many questions.

Why are some covered? Why do some have tattoos? How did they die? What did they see? What made them laugh? Who loved them? These questions may never be answered, and those mysteries the mummies hold inside them make the exhibit so fascinating.

Eerie and unforgettable, “Mummies of the World” has given Utah the rare opportunity to reach in to the past and explore the mysteries of lost worlds and the people in them.

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