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 MuseumEthics
The victims' struggle for recognition and recurring genocide memories in Namibia
Vilho Amukwaya Shigwedha
: 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 MuseumEthics: 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,
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 MuseumEthics
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 MuseumEthics: Redefining