Mummies – Bodies for Eternity Mummies – Bodies for Eternity
Mummies – Bodies for Eternity
© Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv
Photo: Michael Göbel


17. November 2009 – 25. April 2010


Bodies for Eternity

The Museum of Natural History and the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel are presenting a joint exhibition for the first time: Mummies – Bodies for Eternity.

In analogy to the two exhibition locations, there are different focal points in terms of content.

The Museum of Natural History emphasizes the scientific background of natural and accidental mummification of living creatures and the intended preservation of human bodies in different times. Mummies from Ancient Egypt, Asia and South America as well as their burial objects are on display. The exhibition in the Natural History Museum is completed by media stations with computer tomographic images that provide insights into the former living conditions of the deceased, but also into different mummification techniques.

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture focuses on the cultural and historical significance of mummies. Its significance is illuminated in the context of ancient Egyptian notions of the afterlife, especially in relation to the European custom of the dead. Therefore, not only various Egyptian mummies are shown, but also mummies from well-known European church and monastery vaults. In opposition to this a naturally preserved dead body from the moor dating back to the 2nd/3rd century ACE. – the so-called woman of Zweelo – is displayed. The exhibition also refers to today's possibilities of preserving the dead body by means of cryonics and plastination, for example, and takes art historical motifs into account in order to demonstrate former ideas of eternal life support or staying young. The exhibition is rounded off by examples of the artistic examination of the subject of 'mummies'.

The reasons for the realization of the exhibition in the Museum of Natural History and the Museum for Sepulchral Culture lie in the history, the collection and also the topics of both houses. The building of today's Natural History Museum, the Ottoneum, which was built more than 400 years ago, housed a teaching institution – the Collegium Carolinum - in the early 18th century, where doctors and midwives were trained. Due to its history, the Ottoneum represents an authentic place for the display of mummies. In contrast, the Museum for Sepulchral Culture provides a suitable background for a cultural-scientific examination of the subject of "mummies", as it is dedicated to all cultural phenomena related to dying, death, burial and commemoration.

The exhibition is based on the special show "Mummies – The Dream of Eternal Life" of the ReissEngelhorn Museums in Mannheim, which was shown in 2008. At Kassel's two exhibition locations, it is further expanded by various questions and aspects.

Eine Gemeinschaftsausstellung vom Naturkundemuseum Kassel und Museum für Sepulkralkultur


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Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.

Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur

Museum für Sepulkralkultur

Weinbergstraße 25–27
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Kassel Documenta Stadt
Deutsche Bischofskonferenz