The Kalamazoo Public Museum Mummy

Posted by jdg | 10:09 AM

When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me stories about going to the Kalamazoo Public Museum when he was a boy, with its collection of various donated historical artifacts housed in a ramshackle old Victorian mansion without hands-on displays or Plexiglas cases (Indian arrowheads; the shrunken heads, the rocks and minerals). I knew the museum in its mid-century incarnation above the library, which was still pretty cool (particularly the mummy's tomb). The experience of approaching and entering that fake tomb, with its real mummy inside (from the jackals guarding the entrance to the dimly-lit ramp past the fake Rosetta stone and the real funerary objects to the line where you'd wait to peek in the little windows for a glimpse of the tomb's painted interior and the mummy herself). It was always an exhilerating experience. After I graduated from high school, a new museum was built and the tomb was abandoned and the mummy has a new home in the sunlight behind UV-blocking Plexiglas. It's just not the same.

We've been all about mummies around here since our last visit to the art museum and its small Egyptian collection. I have had to relate the story of visiting that tomb a hundred times for my slightly terrified daughter. Gram walks around the house with his arms out-stretched, repeating "Mummies say, 'Mmmmmmmm.'"

The girl asked me if I could find her a movie about mummies, and after the usual Youtube search yielded little more than a bunch of Brendan Fraser tribute videos, I found the following episode of Reading Rainbow where LeVar does an awesome job explaining what mummies are and how they were made (using Aliki's mummy book) and then he actually goes to my childhood museum and visits the tomb that no longer exists and a forensic artist recreates the living face of the mummy that captured so much of my imagination as a kid. I was super thrilled to find this, and despite my personal connection it is definitely the best video we found online for any kids interested in mummies:

[Man, I am excited for the kids to read Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Egypt Game when they are old enough].

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