Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last Saturday Nicole and me had a chance to go see the mummy exhibit at the LA Science Center.  The show was called Mummies of the World and I recommend you go see it if you like dead shivered up things that are really old.  But seriously, it was extremely interesting.  If you know me you know that I am really into archeology, especially Egyptology.  And at one point I considered becoming an archaeologist.  So, I really enjoyed seeing these mummies up close and personal.
Yet, I have some complaints (usually I do).  First, I thought the information provided about the mummies was a little light.  Alot of people were walking around the exhibit saying: "But why did they do it?"  Referring to the Egyptian mummification process.  The show made the mummification process come off looking like a great mystery, yet in reality the Ancient Egyptians had very good religious reasons for turning people into jerky.  Which they recorded in detail.  It had everything to do with providing a place for the Ka to reside.  The Ka is an individual's spiritual double, and as long as it has a place to live, (in a statue, body, or even a wall fresco) that person could live on for eternity.  That's why the pharaohs went crazy building statues of themselves, and had their bodies mummified after they died so there would be plenty of places for their Ka to hang out.  Now, unfortunately I have forgotten more then I can remember from my archeology classes, and the whole thing is a little more complicated then that.  However, it would have been nice if the exhibit at the LA science touched on some of the aspects of the Ka belief system.  The whole thing sorta came off like a freak show to me.  However, it was really cool freak show.  So at the end of the day: Who cares?

Above are some sketches I did of the mummies.  Since the show was about Mummies of the world, they had mummies from ancient cultures of almost every continent, including some Peruvian mummies found on mountaintops.  Drawing these corpses was a little creepy and I was nervous about unleashing bad mojo.  Especially the mummy heads (back in the day tourists could buy mummy parts, or even ground up mummy which was considered a "heal all").  The heads had a lot of expression, and seemed to be screaming from their bandages.  Very spooky.

Another thing that started to happen was I started to realize these dried up jerky things were actually human, and were walking around living their lives once.  Just like me.  I think most people saw them as movie props or something.  But if you stare at them long enough the idea gets driven home. 

As you can imagine the show was pretty busy, and the crowd was pretty thick around the coolest mummies.  That's when my sketchbook saved the day!  No cameras were allowed so recording what I saw was only possible through drawing.  Yet, there was a great side effect!  People would stay out of my way while I was drawing.  Walking around, or even ducking underneath my view, as if I was trying to take a photograph.  It was wonderful!  I could stand there all day in front of a mummy and the mentality of the people around me was: Don't block his view he's drawing.  So now I am going to bring a sketchbook to every important exhibit and ensure myself a good view.   


1 comment:

Anna See said...

that exhibit was awesome!!! glad you were able to get some sketches in - it was so packed! nice work

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