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Ethics at the British Museum

February 20, 2017

Aisha Almisnad Almohannadi talks to us about the 'mummy rooms' at the British Museum and her take on ethical concerns.


"Mummies are one of wonders of ancient Egyptian history. Mummies have attracted special attention because they are human bodies that were maintained via mummification for thousands of years. They were regarded as an interesting historical object and displayed at museums. At our present time, with worldwide recognition of human right and human dignity, the question of displaying mummies at museums as an object with other historical objects should raise some concern.

Walking through room 62-63 of Egyptian death and afterlife (mummies) in the British Museum, is struggle due to overcrowding of people and displayed objects, it was hard to contemplate objects or read labels. Mummies and objects was equally displayed on the shelves. Around the room, the mummies was lying on the display with no names to make them seen more as human remains than objects. Thinking of those people (ancient Egyptians) as humans, and how they did put a great efforts to be remembered, and to prepare themselves for the afterlife, I can say that their remains deserve to be treated with more respect.

In contrast, in room 37, the half body of unknown man found in England named Lindow Man was displayed in more respectable quite corner, few people in the room quietly approached the display, took longer time to look and read the labels. It was a completely different atmosphere comparing with the room of ancient Egyptians. This raise question about the prejudice or inequality of museum displays."

Aisha is a current PhD candidate in Museum Studies at University of Leicester (since February 2016). She has previously studied for an MA in Museum Studies at University of Leicester, and works both as a Curator Assistant at New Walk Museum and at Qatar Museums Authority.

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