Mummies and Artifacts from Around the World

text and photos courtesy of Arizona Science Center

Now on view at the Arizona Science Center, Mummies of the World: The Exhibition features 40 real human and animal mummies, as well as 85 rare artifacts from across the globe. This blockbuster exhibit, which traveled from Budapest, Hungary to Phoenix, reveals how the scientific study of mummies provides a window into the lives of ancient people from every region of the world.


Representing Europe, South America and Ancient Egypt, the exhibition offers unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations. Through engaging electronic and mechanical interactive presentations, state-of-the-art multimedia stations and dramatic displays, guests will travel on a 4,500-year journey to learn about the creation, origins and history of mummies. 

Designed to teach visitors how mummies were created, Mummies of the World: The Exhibition explores various cultures that mummified their deceased. Since soft tissues such as skin, muscle, internal organs, hair and nails usually decay soon after death, various civilizations adopted mummification, the process which enables those body parts to be preserved. The culture’s environment determined whether intentional or natural process of mummification was selected. 

The latest technology now enables scientists to study mummies in more detail. No longer is it necessary to unwrap or otherwise damage mummies to uncover new information. The exhibition is arranged in four galleries.


One mummy stands (or lies) apart from the rest – MUMAB. Attend a special kick-off Mummies After Hours with Ronn Wade,  Retired Director of Anatomical Services, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Adjunct Faculty of the Department  of Anatomy & Neurobiology. 

Dr. Wade is one of two researchers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore who recreated ancient Egyptian mummification techniques to preserve the remains of a man who donated his body to science in 1994, creating MUMAB (Mummy of University of Maryland at Baltimore).

Come face-to-face with the largest collection of mummies ever assembled, after hours. Enhance your experience – beer, cocktails, snacks, and other refreshments available for purchase.


Mummies of the World: The Exhibition and Mummies Lecture

February  20

Doors open at 5 p.m. | The lecture begins at 7:30  p.m.

Arizona Science Center




One gallery explores several environments in which bodies can preserve as a result of the natural environment. Human and animal mummies in this gallery include those from hot, dry environments in South America, a natural sand-salt environment in Egypt, an African desert, an alpine glacier, a German castle crypt with constant airflow and an acidic peat bog from the Netherlands


This grouping presents mummies that have been prepared by humans for cultural reasons. The human and animal mummies in this gallery include an elaborately bandaged cat, two adults from Ancient Egypt and several shrunken heads from South America. Various artifacts associated with the preparation of the dead in Ancient Egypt are included, such as beautifully painted wooden sarcophagus, ushabtis (a small figure deposited in an ancient Egyptian tomb with the mummy generally bearing inscriptions from the Book of the Dead and representing servants expected to do certain agricultural labors required of the deceased in the land of the dead) and mummy beads.


A section of the exhibition centers around MUMAB (a modern experimental human mummy). A body recently mummified, following the techniques used by Ancient Egyptian embalmers, is on view with detailed scientific documentation of the process. This gallery will include not only the mummy, but several of the tools used to prepare the body, all of which were replicated from original Egyptian embalming.


Exploring the links between mummies, science and medicine, is exhibited separately. Aside from showing mummies prepared for medical purposes, this gallery will also include examples of the application of scientific and medical techniques for the analysis of mummies, and the important shift from autopsy to modern medical science to study mummies. The exhibits will include several anatomical mummies from the Burns Collection of the Maryland School of Medicine, South American mummies (with detailed 3-D animations from the CT scans of the mummies) and church crypt mummies from Hungary (with discussion of the past and present scientific studies of tuberculosis).


Mummies of the World: The Exhibition

Through September 2

Arizona Science Center