Two mummies buried in a museum garden … a coffin that rotates … skulls amassed for dubious research … What if the most interesting stories about Egyptian mummies are not the ones you know?
Mummified explores the curious, unsettling and controversial stories of the Egyptian mummies held by museums in France and Britain. From powdered mummies consumed as medicine, to mummies unrolled in public, dissected for race studies and DNA-tested in modern laboratories, there is a lot more to these ancient human remains than meets the eye. Following mummies on their journeys from Egypt to museums and private collections in Paris, London, Leicester and Manchester, the book revisits the history of these bodies that have fascinated Europeans for so long.
Mummified explores stories of life and death, of collecting and viewing, and of interactions – sometimes violent and sometimes moving – that raise questions about the essence of what makes us human.
Capture’s critical statements resonate with my experience from being closely involved, during its formative years,25 with the German Humboldt Forum, the largest-scale new museum and reinterpretation of ethnographic collections currently under development in Europe. The principle of self-representation never became a significant part or a driver of the discourse of the Humboldt Forum. In the ICOM publication Museums, Ethics and Cultural Heritage from 2016, Richard West and Hermann Parzinger, Director General of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (SPK), the
term ‘kaitiaki’, and who is looking after whom. Some observe that kaitiaki in museums do not stand in for local iwi, who are the real kaitiaki, while others point out that, in times past, it was the taonga that was the kaitiaki that looked after people, not the other way around. 26 Tamarapa interview 2016. 27 C. McCarthy, E. Dorfman, A. Hakiwai and Ā. Twomey, ‘Mana Taonga: Connecting Communities in New Zealand Museums through Ancestral Māori Culture’, Museum International, 64:3 (2015), 5–15; J. Marstine, ‘Introduction: The Contingent Nature of the New Museum Ethics
: policy on human remains’, 2006. URL: www.museumwales.ac.uk/1181 (accessed 21 October 2015). 52 International Council of Museums, ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums (Paris: International Council of Museums, 2006), p. 9; see J. Marstine (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics: Redefining Ethics for the Twenty-First-Century Museum (Abingdon: Routledge), p. 264. 53 ‘Statement by His Excellency Dr Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia, on the occasion of receiving human remains of Namibians repatriated from Germany’, Heroes’ Acre, Windhoek, 5
December 2016. 2 Ibid. 3 See for example P. Tapsell, Pukaki: A Comet Returns (Auckland: Reed, 2000); P. Tapsell, ‘Taonga, Marae, Whenua – Negotiating Custodianship: A Maori Tribal Response to Te Papa: The Museum of New Zealand’, in A. Coombes (ed.), Rethinking Settler Colonialism: History and Memory in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and South Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006), pp. 86–99; P. Tapsell, ‘Aroha Mai: Whose Museum? The Rise of Indigenous Ethics in Museum Contexts’, in J. Marstine (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics
University Press, 2011). Notably, the Tropenmuseum as a site of decolonisation in the Dutch metropole has been the subject of some useful critique: see C. Kreps, ‘Changing the Rules of the Road: Post-Colonialism and the New Ethics of Museum Anthropology’, in J. Marstine (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics: Redefining Ethics for