Unraveling Mummy Objectification

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Abstract

Whether ground up into medicinal powders or on display during unwrapping parties, in museums or on the silver screen, Egyptian human mummies have captured popular fascination for centuries. This mummy craze, termed mummymania by Egyptologists, has had a lasting influence on public and academic perceptions of mummies in museums. Egyptian mummies, as a result of mummymania, have continued to be merely the focal point of museum collections, valued not as historically significant individuals but for their ability to pique the interest of the public as “objects” of curiosity. To reevaluate how mummies are represented in the museum space, this article evaluates the difficult histories surrounding mummies and their acquisition into museums, drawing on critical heritage and museology studies and using the Egyptian Exhibit at the Redpath Museum as a case study.