Review: Mummies of the World

Buffalo Museum of Science Exhibit Review

I’m in high school again. The teacher dims the lights, and the projector whirls into action. Over the frazzled speaker, a voice invites us to embark upon a journey through the land of the dead. Respect must be given. What we are about to see are real people who led real lives; once alive, but now frozen in time; frozen in death, and preserved through eternity.

So begins your experience into Mummies of the World at the Buffalo Museum of Science. My best guess is that the required short film shown before entering the exhibit is meant to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Muted tones of amber and sapphire radiance accompany you throughout the entire presentation. Haunting music, presumably from an ancient and far away land, strokes an atmosphere of bereavement. The environment is subdued.

If you feel like you are attending a wake, it’s because you are, in a sense. Look around, the desiccated bodies are encased and rendered for a full viewing. The exhibit allows you to observe the mummies in 360 degrees, and tolerates plenty of space between spectators. On opening day, a sizable crowd gathered, easily moving throughout the space without herding together or causing long pauses in between displays.

Mummies of the World offers plenty of extras to occupy your time should such a circumstance occur. Large print murals showcase background information, and interactive touchscreens literally turn the mummies inside out with CT scan technology. At no time did we feel as though we were waiting to see anything. Honestly, for the price of admission, we were more than willing to take our time and soak it all in.

This brings us to the touchy issue of whether or not to spend the extra money to bring the kids. My personal opinion is that no child under the age of twelve needs to see this exhibit. Ultimately, everyone will decide for themselves, and a number of parents disagreed with this assessment on opening night, but let’s remember what is on display. In addition to the adult mummies: infants, children, severed hands and feet, anatomized bodies, and dismembered heads are included features of the exhibition.

Whatever you decide, my advice is to buy your tickets at Tops Markets. Not only did we save $3 on each ticket, but we also bypassed the time restraints placed on tickets purchased at the museum. Otherwise, full price tickets cost $22 for adults and $18 for children up to 17 years old. Your best bet is to bring Grandma and Grandpa, or go with another couple as a group. This way, while one couple enjoys the exhibit, the other can occupy the kids with more appropriate museum entertainment.

It is worth pointing out that a portion of this exhibit is taken from the museum’s existing collection. I only mention it because it came as a surprise rather than a disappointment. It may have been just as peculiar had they not included it. Members and frequent patrons will probably want to breeze through the fraction of artifacts they have already seen. Even so, you’re looking at least an hour or more complete your self-guided tours.

Overall, Mummies of the World pulls together a somber, scientific gathering of curiosity and wonder. You can’t separate your sympathy from your prying eyes peering at these lost souls shrouded in the darkness. Death it seems isn’t the end here. Instead, it’s a chance to understand how the departed live on for the benefit of the future and in the interest of knowledge.

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