Britain's most family friendly museum will be welcoming a new type of mummy into its family next year when Secret Egypt
opens at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
. From 11 February to the 5 June 2011, this brand new exhibition will adventure into and challenge the secrets and myths about ancient Egypt perpetuated by Hollywood and popular media.
Secret Egypt will bring together over 200 objects from museums around the UK including a mummy from the 22nd dynasty on loan from the Manchester Museum. The mummy, called Perenbast, was discovered in 1909 in Qurna, Egypt and is a great example of the care and respect given during the preparations for passing into the eternal life.
Egypt has always fascinated people and is the inspiration behind many books, films and TV shows. Such is its resonance in society that some of the most popular and commonly held beliefs on the subject are mere fabrications by the film industry used to sensationalise the story and excite the audience. Secret Egypt will offer evidence and artefacts that will encourage the visitor to re-asses what they think they know about ancient Egyptian civilisation.
Secret Egypt will explore six key themes. The first, What is real? What is fake?, looks at how imitation and dummy objects were believed to function as the genuine article in the sacred world.
Did aliens build the pyramids? Secret Egypt will blast the sci-fi explanations for the construction of these world wonders into space. It'll explore the archaeological evidence which shows that these magnificent structures are due to the sophistication of ancient Egyptian society rather than alien interference.
The third section asks How well do we know the ancient Egyptians? By looking at the well-known and most celebrated characters, such as Tutankhamen and Ramesses the Great, this part of the exhibition will compare what we think we know, to what the archaeology says about these heroes of Egypt.
Beware the mummy's curse! will expose the sensationalism behind the gory and gruesome idea that people would rise from the dead to chase and terrify the living with their bandaged limbs. It will present the true picture of mummification and show the respect given to the body through techniques that helped to preserve and protect it.
The fixation with the processes of mummification has led to the question Were the Egyptians obsessed with death? This section discovers the real reasons behind the elaborate tombs and coffins which were believed to help achieve eternal life in the next world.
The final section, Whose Egypt?, investigates why ancient Egypt ended and the legacy it has left in our society some 2000 years later.