Mummy Dearest

Houston Museum of Natural Science's Hall of Ancient Egypt

Catherine D. Anspon
July 11, 2013

Resuscitated from the sands of time, the pyramids creak open in a dazzling display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science: The recently unveiled 10,000-square-foot Hall of Ancient Egypt occupies the entire third floor of the HMNS’s new Dan L. Duncan Wing. The exhibition space even competes with the football-sized dino hall two floors below, which boasts its own T. rex. Three mummies, 12 sarcophagi and, all told, some 500 artifacts spanning 5,000 years come together in a rare, long-term partnership melding our museum’s trove with loans from venerable institutions renowned for Egyptomania, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum in Germany and Chiddingstone Castle in the UK, plus the addition of some private holdings, including Houston’s fabulous Bosarge Collection. The entire hall comprises one of the most impressive Egyptian exhibitions in the Southwest, making our museum worthy of a pilgrimage for pharaoh fans. HMNS’s Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout and consulting curator Tom Hardwick organize the new hall around five themes — the environment, daily life and politics, religion, mummies and mummification, and early expeditions — which elucidate one of the world’s most mesmerizing civilizations. Purists may find fault with the theatrical lighting, recorded flute music and lack of dates on individual labels, but the exquisite artifacts themselves, which rise to the level of art, more than overcome any heavy-handedness. Ticket details and info, 713.639.4629;