Ancient mummies take HK by storm

Local | Staff reporter 9 Oct 2017

The mummies are here - but not for much longer.

The hugely popular exhibition Eternal Life - Exploring Ancient Egypt resulted from the mummies being brought over from the British Museum in London to help mark the 20th anniversary of the handover.

Since setting up shop at the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui East the six ancient Egyptian mummies have attracted more than 760,000 visitors or an average of more than 8,000 a day. The exhibition will run for another 10 days.

It was no mean feat getting these ancient individuals to take up temporary abode in the heart of Hong Kong's tourist district.

Museum curator (exhibit) Paulina Chan Shuk-man said staff had to work extremely hard to spotlight the ancient artifacts with the latest technology.

"We co-organized the exhibition with the British Museum. We had to meet their requirements on the environmental conditions in the exhibition hall, the design of the venue, and the display of the artifacts," she said. "We conducted several tests to ensure we met their requirements, and we made use of new technology to make the exhibition more attractive."

It took Chan and her team a year to put the exhibition together, and their first challenge was to find suitable showcases. "The mummies are large. We have to show each mummy and the top and bottom of its sarcophagus in the same showcase, so we had to order several large showcases from overseas."

Along with the mummies are more than 200 invaluable artifacts. With so many precious relics to display, showcases had to be borrowed from other museums. Museum technical officer Chan Kim-fung checked the showcases before the artifacts arrived in Hong Kong, and found several needed repair.

"The British Museum had strict requirements on the temperature and humidity inside each showcase. If there were any gaps between the glass panels of the showcase it would be difficult to control the humidity inside, so we had to repair them one by one and reinstall the glass. I remember our curator tried to insert a sheet of A4 paper into the showcases to test them. She could not get the paper through after our repair work."

Chan's team continues to monitor the exhibition hall's temperature and humidity each day. "We were worried the air-conditioning system was not good enough to meet the British Museum's requirement, so we renewed the system and conducted measurements. It was like converting an old car into a Formula 1 racing car."

The exhibition runs until October 18.

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