Ancient Egypt at the Field Museum

This past weekend I was in Chicago for a family wedding and decided to go down a day early to spend some time at the Field Museum! I thought I would share some things I found interesting throughout their Egyptian exhibitions and film.

This first image is one that I find highly amusing! The first time I was at the Field Museum several years ago, I was given a tour from one of the curators. The first thing that she wanted to show me was the bust in the Egyptian exhibit. She called it “their own Michael Jackson”! I still find it interesting that the Field Museum receives requests from museums around the country to have this bust on loan because of the resemblance to the King of Pop.

In one of there temporary exhibits on the second floor of the Museum is currently “Images of the Afterlife.” You can click here for the link for more information on it! The exhibit shows the use of CT scans and 3D imaging to reveal secrets about the mummies, such as what they looked like when the lived. My personal favorite section of this exhibit involved a hands-on activity. Visitors were encouraged to use a video game controller to manipulate a 3D rendering of one of the mummies in the room. I was able to rotate the mummy 360 degrees and zoom in and out of the mummies casket into the mummy itself! It was fascinating to see the details that were gained through CT scans.

Here are are few more images from the main Egyptian exhibit! The second image is from “inside the tomb” that you are able to walk through. The museum recreated the tomb of Unis-ankh; they purchased two of the chambers of the limestone tomb and shipped them to Chicago. In this tomb you are able to climb to the top and look at the types of construction techniques that were used to erect the structure.

If you have never been to the field museum, I would greatly recommend it!

3 thoughts on “Ancient Egypt at the Field Museum

  1. I really liked this post! The bust really does look like Michael Jackson!

    I thought that the link you posted, Images of the Afterlife, was very interesting. It was really cool to see how CT scanning analyses each layer of the corpse to reveal what is hidden beneath the surface. The techniques they use to uncover the past are very impressive and it is crazy to think how far archaeological research has come thanks to technological advancement. Advancements in CT scanning and 3D imagery gives researchers the opportunity to further investigate physical remains from the past in way that were inconceivable to archaeologist and researcher of the past. 3D imagery can give scholars a better picture of what’s going on compared to a 2D image.

    I also thought the recreation of the tomb was pretty neat. It reminds me of the one I’ve seen at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. At the Carnegie, to enter the tomb, you have to crawl through a small tunnel to enter the dark, small, and pretty creepy, burial tomb representing a real tomb found at the workers village.

    I have never been to the Field Museum but your post has definitely sparked an interest. The next time I’m in Chicago, I’ll have to check it out. Who wouldn’t want to see an ancient version of the King of Pop?!

  2. Hi Autumn, thanks for sharing your personal experiences this week – I went to this exhibit in grade school since I grew up nearby, but had forgotten what a big part ancient Egypt plays in the permanent collections of the Field Museum. The museums studies students (maybe you are one of them?) would certainly have a different perspective on engaging the public, but since entering anthropology I have been peripherally interested in how other cultures are explained in museum exhibits. In this week’s readings, Bard explains the three parts of the Egyptian “soul,” with the caveat that these concepts do not have a good Judeo-Christian correlation. Does this exhibit explain such concepts in a similar way? Or does it just allow “ka” to mean “spirit”? The early Boasian concept of understanding cultures on their own terms is something that museums must struggle with when communicating across cultural boundaries (and needing to keep the attention of all ages of visitor!). Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back soon and approach these exhibits with more archaeological knowledge under my belt!

  3. This is so cool! I haven’t been to the Field Museum since I was twelve or thirteen, but I remember how exciting it was to be surrounded by so many intriguing artifacts. My most vivid memory of the trip was my walk through the tomb that you included in your pictures. I was disappointed when there wasn’t a mummy at the end, although there were obviously plenty to see elsewhere in the museum. It’s great how museums can be such inspiring things, and can present history and culture in tangible and visual ways. I like how the hard work of archaeologists and other researchers can be presented to everyone in an entertaining way that leaves an impression.

    It’s too bad that not everything can make it to the display cases, and not everything generates the same interest among museum patrons. Overall, though, I think museums are a great way to feel the connection to the past and really grasp the magnitude of civilizations such as Ancient Egypt. I really want to go to large museums like the Field Museum again in the near future. I think my perceptions and opinions would be vastly different from what they were almost ten years ago.

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