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  • Lindsay

Displaying human remains

Human mummies have never been all that fascinating to me, sure, I had the little kid fascination, but I think I always knew there was something a bit dubious about showing off human remains. The Bog Bodies toured my home town and I had already seen them and was very uncomfortable with them so I conveniently lost my school permission slip and stayed at school watching a film that day. I did go through a period of fascination with animal mummies, I liked that they were a way to honour gods that I, at 15 or 16, would never have thought about. I even did a whole school project on them, we were supposed to build dioramas but I built mummies. Those were the only mummies/preserved or collected remains that I could really tolerate.

Flash to 2018, I'm working in a dream job in a major national museum on a project related to early childhood and play. This job had me spending time in a collections room with the childhood collection (hundreds of dolls), but there was also a set of human remains in the room waiting for repatriation. Once I knew about this I had about a million questions (none were answered).

I think about that person often. I wonder at what point you go from being a person with a story to being bones in a museum collection store, with a perfectly controlled environment and nobody to mourn you aside from hundreds of dolls, nobody to honour you or even know you're there.


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