Earlier this year, the new mummy film was released. I have not watched it yet but it did remind me of my first encounter with mummies around 15 years ago. I do not remember seeing any museum exhibitions or displays of mummies in Thailand (where I grew up) back then. However, I first came across the word ‘mummy’ thanks to the Hollywood film The Mummy (1999) staring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Since then, every time I hear the word ‘mummy’, I always think about ancient Egypt, rich with civilisation, pyramids, curse, treasure, and of course the incarnation of the dead.
It was my favourite film and still is. I love its sequel, The Mummy Returns (2001) as well. But I did not see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), the final film in the trilogy, for quite a silly reason that it is not ‘the mummy’ I have been so fascinated with (apart from that they replaced Rachel Weisz with someone else). I am aware that other cultures like in China do have histories of mummification but those just do not fit my definition of ‘the mummy’.
Apart from mummies and ancient Egypt, I also first heard about the British Museum from the films and I had always wanted to go there since then. Two years ago, I finally had an opportunity to visit the British Museum but honestly, I felt really disappointed. It was not at all like what I expected! However, it is not that I wanted to blame the films for giving me the wrong idea, nor the Museum for being different. I could have done some research about it before the visit it but I did not. It was me who confused reality with fiction and representation.
Amornchat Sermcheep is a PhD researcher from Thailand, currently researching posters in museums at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester. She has previously studied for an MPhil in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology at the University of Oxford.