From “Egypt at the Manchester Museum” blog – Link to original article
Last week, the unwrapped mummy of Asru, and the partially wrapped mummy of Khary, and the loaned child mummy from Stonyhurst College, were covered. The covering was carried out in order that the human remains be treated with respect and to keep the bodies on display in line with the Manchester Museum Human Remains policy
As you can see, the decision has not been without controvsery. However, I am very pleased to see this as it is forcing everyone to actually consider this issue and is forcing them to look at their own positions and assumptions anew. I quote below my own thoughts on this topic, originally posted in a comment on the article.
I think the museum has taken an ethical and courageous stance on this issue. Whilst I think that the final decision could and should have waited until the consultation period was complete, I personally feel the move is mostly positive.
One thing I think that could have been done better would be leaving the face of dead visible. I think this would be a good balance between giving the dead the respect they deserve, whilst preserving a “link” with the public. Within Egypt this seems to be the way things are moving, albeit gradually.
Because the BM has not covered it’s human remains does not make Manchester’s decision automatically wrong. Personally I hope that the BM will study the move that Manchester (and some Egyptian museums) have made and consider adopting a similar policy.
I agree with George Stilwell that When we talk about “human remains” and mummies, we are talking about people. Let’s not be so quick to forget this, and what their wishes for the afterlife were. Modern research can further our knowledge of Ancient Egypt whilst barely having to touch their bodies, thanks to more sophisticated technology than the early Egyptologists had at their disposal, and so it is only fitting that our attitudes towards how we “interact” with remains overall also needs some rethinking. Museums can provide informative and in depth exhibits to educate the public about Ancient Egyptian beliefs and practises concerning burial, mummification and the afterlife, without having to turn the body of the deceased into a macabre spectacle.
This is not the view of one who is overly distressed by seeing human remains. This is the view of one who believes, that in the 21st century, we have an opportunity to move the popular perception and interest in Ancient Egypt beyond the spectacle of the unwrapped mummy, and hopes that such an opportunity will not be wasted.
I support Manchester Museum.