MUMMIES, KINGS AND GOLD DEBUT AT SCIENCE CENTER THIS FALL
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Meredith Westheimer or Kelly Husak
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MUMMIES, KINGS AND GOLD DEBUT AT SCIENCE CENTER THIS FALL
South Florida Science Center and Aquarium hosts North American premier of Afterlife: Tombs & Treasures of Ancient Egypt
(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) - A one-way ticket to Egypt will cost less than $20 this fall, thanks to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, as the local attraction is taking visitors on a journey thousands of years in the making. Stepping into the Science Center on Saturday, October 11, 2014, opening day of Afterlife: Tombs & Treasures of Ancient Egypt, guests will feel like they have stepped into a time machine, warping them to an elaborate ancient empire.
In true Science Center-style, the highly anticipated blockbuster exhibition will have interactive components, making it feel like this transporting has really occurred. Most notably, guests can step into the centerpiece of the exhibition, a full- size reconstruction of the burial chamber of the great Pharaoh Thutmose III.
On tour for more than 10 years, and seen by more than 4.5 million people worldwide, Afterlife will be coming from a wildly-popular tour in Asia, where science-seekers lined up for more than 6 hours for a glimpse at the largest current touring exhibition of authentic Egyptian material. Winning the International Award at the UK Museum and Heritage Awards ceremony in 2012, visitors will be mystified by 200 exquisite and original artifacts, all of which are on display in North America for the first time ever. The exhibit will run through Saturday, April 18, 2015.
“The afterlife is thrilling,” said Lew Crampton, Science Center CEO. “Every culture has particular beliefs and customs about what happens when we die, with the Egyptians known for some of the most interesting and elaborate traditions. Preparations for the Pharaohs’ tombs were incredibly intricate and embodied their deeply-rooted beliefs in life beyond the physical world. Excavated directly from the Egyptian tombs and towns, including the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, this is the largest touring exhibition of Egyptian material currently available – and it will be making its North American debut, right here at the South Florida Science Center! This scientific, environmental and cultural look at the lives of ancient Egyptians is sure to create awe-inspiring moments, and lead to meaningful and interesting science education for all ages. We are grateful to Quantum Foundation for their assistance in underwriting this important exhibit. Quantum’s support has resulted in great benefits in our community and beyond.”
Among the most significant artifacts making its debut, is the Ramesside male mummy believed to be the son of Ramses II, often referred to as “Ramses the Great.” The identity of this 3000-year-old mummy was most recently revealed through an advance Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan carried out during an episode of “Mummy Forensics” on The History Channel. Additionally, there are several other mummies in the exhibition, including a wrapped mummy of a woman and a mummy of a young girl believed to be about 4 – 8 years old.
Visitors to the exhibition begin their voyage to the Afterlife by discovering how sophisticated and rich ancient Egyptians’ lives were through displays related to life in ancient Egypt featuring many rare objects which illustrate their culture as well as their mastery of beautiful design. They are introduced to the mysterious preparations the Egyptians made for death and burial which they believed would allow them to live forever. Visitors encounter ancient animal mummies, an extraordinary number of human mummies, exquisite golden mummy masks and coffins, and strange magical figures from ancient tombs. The exhibition culminates in making the journey to the Valley of the Kings by entering an exact facsimile of the tomb chamber of Thutmose III and discovering the Ramesside male mummy – one of the best preserved mummies in existence.
Widely considered the ‘Napoleon’ of Egypt, and a military genius by historians, Thutmose III was an active expansionist ruler. Reigning over Egypt for more than 50 years, he has been credited with conquering more land than any pharaoh before or after him, expanding Egypt’s borders to create the largest empire ever conquered and ruled by one king.
“We know that a passion for science is at the heart of any health care career so, as a health care foundation, we’re excited that the South Florida Science Center is growing and developing as a center for science education in the region,” said Quantum Foundation President Eric Kelly. “Big exhibits like this help draw new people in to explore the world of science and this exhibit will encourage those who haven’t experienced the Science Center to come and see how just how exciting it is.”
United Exhibits Group of Copenhagen, in cooperation with Bolton Museum in the United Kingdom, bring the Afterlife Exhibition to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. The UEG curatorial team selected an outstanding collection of authentic objects excavated in Egypt to illustrate the life, burial customs, and afterlife beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. These objects transport the visitor to a remote time and place where people loved their lives so much they wanted to continue them for eternity. People will encounter rare and precious gold tongue and eye pieces that were believed to allow ancient Egyptian mummies to see and speak in the afterlife, animal headed canopic jars that preserved the vital organs, ancient royal burial linen finer than can be made today, and finely painted coffins and masks all meant to transport the ancient Egyptians to a wonderful afterlife. Exquisite jewelry in carnelian, crystal and amethyst, fine clothing thousands of years old, fragile baskets and jars, elegant cosmetic containers, and detailed artistic scenes of people from all walks of life -- together these objects speak to us today of the marvelous life of the ancient Egyptians.
“The Afterlife Exhibition gives visitors to the South Florida Science Center the opportunity to experience first-hand the remains of one of the first great civilizations in world history” said Dr. Carolyn Routedge, chief curator of the Afterlife Exhibition. “The ancient Egyptian artefacts on display, some over 5,000 years old, come from some of the most spectacular excavations in Egypt during the past 150 years. We are very excited to be able to share with visitors the experience of being in an ancient Egyptian royal tomb and being in the presence people who lived thousands of years ago, but had the same needs, feelings and ambitions that we do today.”
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, recently named the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches’ nonprofit of the year, features more than 50 hands-on educational exhibits, an 8,000 gallon fresh and salt water aquarium- featuring both local and exotic marine life, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall and an interactive Everglades exhibit. All exhibits will be on display during Afterlife’s special showing.
Admission to Afterlife: Tombs & Treasures of Ancient Egypt and the Science Center’s permanent exhibits will be $19.95 for adults, $15.95 for children aged 3 to 12, $17.95 for seniors aged 62 and older, and children under 3 are free. Admission for Science Center members is $8. Planetarium shows and miniature golf are not included in general admission pricing. Guests will also be able to select a Science Center-only pass, granting access to the Center’s general offerings for a reduced admission price.
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach and is open Monday – Friday from 9am-5pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. For more information, call 561-832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org. Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @SFScienceCenter.
Afterlife Fast Facts:
· How many crates/containers? -- 49
· How long did it take to ship? – 1.5 months
· How many mummies? – 3 complete humans + parts of 4 humans; 6 animals.
· Connection to Tutankhamun? – Howard Carter, Egyptologist who discovered the tomb, began his career as an artist and photographer and one of his first jobs was to photograph the coffin and cartonnage of Takhenmes in the Afterlife Exhibition.
· How detailed was the CT scan of Ramesside Mummy? – Most scan passes ever carried out on a mummy – data so large that a supercomputer was needed for analysis.
· Why is there a small piece of linen in the exhibition? – It is the finest woven example of linen ever tested from ancient Egypt and it came from the wrappings of the mummy of Thutmose III
· Connection to Agatha Christie? – Three ivory plaques in the exhibition were excavated by the husband of the most popular mystery writer, Agatha Christie. Christie cleaned and recorded these ivories on the excavation.
· What is the oldest thing in the exhibition? – Beautiful hand-made pots that are over 6,000 years old.
· What is the heaviest object? – Two fragments of a granite column with the image of Pharaoh Rameses II that have a combined weight of nearly three tons.