Once back in the States, I interned with Peter Schertz, VMFA’s Ancient Art Curator, and helped write some of the labels for the soon-to-be reinstalled Egyptian galleries. My favorite label, of course, was the one about mummification!
I also discussed with him at length the ways that European museums displayed their mummies and was happy to learn about Peter’s vision for the reinstallation of VMFA’s mummy, Tjeby.
In order for visitors not to be confronted by the mummy right away, Peter decided to dedicate an entire corner of the gallery to the mummy and mummification related materials that would be somewhat closed off from the rest of the space. This means visitors have the choice of whether or not they want to view the mummy in the first place. The lighting in Tjeby’s case is much darker than anywhere else in the gallery and only brightens up when the motion sensors detect a visitor’s presence as he/she approaches the case. This is a great way to make the visitor aware of the space he/she is entering and to accentuate the fact that within the display lies the mummified remains of Tjeby, a human being, just like us. A being who should remain respected, just as we would respect any tomb in today’s cemeteries.