The Nile Now Runs Through Houston

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New Hall of Ancient Egypt opening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, May 24

Detail of a mummy cartonnage of Bakenrenes, 26th Dynasty (664 – 525 BC), on display.

There are hundreds of artifacts going into this exhibition from around the world and they represent just a glimpse of what life was like for the ancient Egyptians, said Tom Hardwick, visiting curator for the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Last year, the Houston Museum of Natural Science opened its world-class Morian Hall of Paleontology, displaying many unique specimens in a space the length of a football field. In addition to creating one of the most dramatic and comprehensive paleontology halls in the world, the expansion plan continues with the opening of a large, 10,000 sq. ft Hall of Ancient Egypt located on the third floor of the new Dan L. Duncan Wing.

“There are hundreds of artifacts going into this exhibition from around the world and they represent just a glimpse of what life was like for the ancient Egyptians,” said Tom Hardwick, visiting curator for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. “By further investigating the landscape of the region, the religion these people followed, as well as secular activities they practiced, we hope to offer some important insight into this fascinating culture.”

Ever since the late 18th century, the Western world has been exploring Egypt. This hall presents artifacts collected since these early days of investigations. The Museum’s own mummy, Ankh Hap, will be part of this new exhibit, as will two other mummies and no less than a dozen coffins.

About the new Hall
HMNS has partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum in Germany; the Salford Museum and Art Gallery in Manchester, U.K.; the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University; and Chiddingstone Castle in the U.K. for a long-term display of items dating back more than 5,000 years, creating one of the biggest and most in-depth Egyptian exhibits in the Southwest.

The permanent exhibition, featuring more than 500 artifacts, is divided into five parts and organized by theme instead of by timeline: the environment; daily life and politics; religion; mummies and mummification; and discovering ancient Egypt.

Visitors begin their experience with a display on the influence the natural environment had on the evolution of this fascinating civilization. Life was only possible inside a very narrow stretch on either side of the River Nile. Burials and the beginning of mummification took place in the desert cemeteries located just outside the fertile farmlands. Daily life, art, politics, warfare and the role of the pharaoh constitute a second section of the exhibit.

From there, the visitor will walk through displays on temples, and the expansive pantheon of Egyptian gods into a display on mummification with its associated mummies and coffins; these are the third and fourth sections of the hall.

In the fifth and final section, patrons learn how we know what we know about ancient Egypt.
Thanks to ancient Greek historians and later French, British and German explorers we have gained tremendous insights into this fascinating culture. Visitors walk into a reconstructed room of an English Castle, home to a large Egyptian collection, parts of which are now on display in Houston. Turn around and see museum-quality replicas of objects that will never leave their home institutions: the famous Rosetta stone and the stunning bust of Queen Nefertiti. Learn how today researchers have turned to satellite imagery to locate and identify long-lost settlements.

The Ancient Hall of Egypt opens May 24 to members and to the public on May 31, and is a part of the Museum’s permanent exhibit halls. For ticket prices or more information on the permanent exhibitions visit our website at http://www.hmns.org or call (713) 639-4629.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science—one of the nation’s most heavily attended museums—is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Giant Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at One Hermann Circle Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.

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