Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Science and Mummies and Parks, Oh My!

Indulge your inner thanatologist with the new exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
I have yet to meet a person young or old who wasn't obsessed with mummies at some point in their lives. 

Usually this means Egyptian mummies, but not always. For those who possess an inner Egyptologist or mummy obsession, you're in luck: the new exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota has plenty for you to explore. 
Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Mummy exhibits have come around several times, so what makes this one different? The standout element of the current display is technology. There are several interactive locations allowing attendees to zoom in on X-ray scans of unwrapped mummies, discovering what their contents hold past wrapped objects and into bone and skin.  It can be easy to forget the amazing-ness of modern technology since we've become so used to it, and these techniques pose a stark contrast to the ancient objects they study. 
Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
There are also some eerily life-like recreations of what some of the mummies likely looked like as living humans. Again, the advances in technology and the astonishing authenticity of the recreations are stunning, and it adds a much needed human element to the exhibit. 

It bears mentioning too that this exhibit is not stuck solely in Egypt. Although Egyptian mummies tend to be the most famous, the first societies in the world known to mummify their dead actually lie in Peru; they began mummifying thousands of years prior to the Egyptians, and the contrasts and similarities between the two techniques are interesting. The stark difference in art style (and size of the remains from modern humans!) are also fascinating, and help the exhibit to feel better rounded. 
Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
If human mummies aren't your thing, you're in luck; there are also a number of coffins, burial objects, and mummified animals that accompany this exhibit. The surrounding set pieces are also sturdy and lifelike, great for kids who need an area to run around and objects to touch. The Science Museum has also brought in several staff at strategic locations to help explain further elements of the exhibit in person; their expertise is a useful addition to the exhibit if you're able to snag some time with them. 
Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota. 
The Science Museum is also featuring a new film in the Omnitheater that celebrates our national park system. National parks are a uniquely American concept and have only existed here for a little over 100 years; they have become an integral part of our national identity and provide safe, clean, engaging natural spaces that millions of people visit annually. Minnesota is unfortunately a little isolated from the bulk of our national parks (although we have one in the Boundary Waters!), so it can be easy to feel removed from this environmental treasure. The Omni film really places you as if you're in the parks themselves and provides some beautiful footage that you simply couldn't access in person. It's less dramatic than some of the other Omni films, but is still an engaging one and great for small kids. 
Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
It's easy to take the incredible museums the Twin Cities enjoys for granted, and we SHOULDN'T. Not many places have such a rich tradition of museums spanning a wide range of subjects, and the Science Museum of Minnesota always has something new to offer. Kids are sure to enjoy the Mummies exhibit and National Parks film. It's worth a stop if you have some time to spare or need to pass a rainy day. For more information about the mummies exhibit, click here; for the national parks, click here