An alignment of Sunday night TV drama, Hallowe’en and an age-old enthusiasm for all things slightly macabre has curators in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Egyptian gallery braced for a veritable Ra-ce of visitors during October half-term!
“Inevitably, when Sunday night period drama focuses on a particular theme, the public’s interest is engaged and they often head out to find out more – with the new ‘Tutankhamun’ mini-series set to be next in line to fill the Downton Abbey void, we’re expecting a resurgence of interest in ancient Egypt – already perennially popular – over the coming weeks and months,” comments curator of world cultures at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Adam Jaffer.
While the TV documentary explores the journey followed by archaeologist Howard Carter to find the tomb of the young pharaoh, it is the process by which his remains were preserved that provides eternal fascination amongst younger visitors. The museum’s displays about mummification – which include grave items to demonstrate the process that the ancient Egyptians followed to prepare for the afterlife – explain how death was viewed in Egyptian culture.
“We have superb examples of mummification on display: including a Graeco-Roman mummy dating to around 300AD,” adds Adam. “This was donated to the museum in 1894 – 28 years before Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun – and although 1600 years ‘younger’ than Tutankhamun’s mummy, it shows in wonderful detail the elaborate binding that is characteristic of the 21st Dynasty, including gilded terracotta studs.”
Visitors over half term can take inspiration from the pattern of the mummy’s bandages – which cover the body of a man aged around 30 – when creating their own costumes for Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, although curators caution against the full body bandage effect, as it can be very difficult to move with both arms and legs fastened tight to the body!
A great opportunity to try out mummy-style bandages will be the Monsters at the Museum fancy dress day at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on Wednesday 26 October. Spooktacular activities will take place from 11am until 4pm and there will be a party from 12noon until 3pm. DJs, mummification shows and prizes for those in fancy dress makes it a fantastic warm-up for trick-or-treating on 31 October, and with free admission, it is a great way to spend a half-term afternoon.
Other half-term Hallowe’en highlights across Birmingham Museums Trust include a spooky science night at Thinktank on Saturday 29 October, including the spectacular ‘science of fright’ show, the family-friendly Aston Hall’oween at Aston Hall also on 29 October, with special adults-only Fright Nights from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 October, and a pumpkin flotilla at Sarehole Mill, taking place at twilight on Friday 28, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 October.
For more information and to prebook tickets, please visit www.birminghammuseums.org.uk