Chicago Diaries,  Life

Field Museum: Mummy Exhibit

A few weeks ago, I managed to snag another spot to a special, free, and private event at the Field Museum!
This time I would be participating in a trial run of their newest idea: a scavenger hunt through certain exhibits of the museum. The goal was to find all the clues through the Ancient Americas exhibit and the Egyptian exhibit, which would lead us to the newest Mummy exhibit.

The grand prize of the scavenger hunt was finding a hidden secret chapel in the museum.
The chapel isn’t a replica, it’s an actual ancient Egyptian chapel of a chamberlain that served an Egyptian pharaoh.
Whoa, right?!

And on my ride over to the museum, my Uber driver was asking what I was doing heading to the museum and when I told him, he literally handed me his phone to show me pictures he took on vacation in Egypt last year. He had hundreds of pictures from the museum on his phone, some were of the ornate and beautiful artwork and craftsmanship that ancient peoples had left behind and some of the pictures were of the mummified bodies that the museum owned.

I was relieved that the Field Museum’s exhibit on Mummies prohibited people from taking pictures of the bodies, or even replicas of the skulls and facial features, because there’s something that’s very dehumanizing about looking at a picture of a mummified body on a phone in an uber? So before we go any further in this blog post, let me tell you that there will be no pictures of mummified bodies in this post! While it’s fascinating to see the preserved bodies and the culture of the Peruvians and Egyptians in this intimate way, it’s an experience that deserves to be respected and seen in person.

Once I got to the museum, I met my team members for the scavenger hunt underneath the Elephants (hahah!).
And I sadly looked where Sue once stood.

That being said, I’m still super stoked about the new dinosaur they’re moving in Sue’s place in 2019 AND super excited about the fact that Sue is just moved to the Hall of Dinosaurs AAAND they’re adding more bones to the carcass to make Sue more “complete”!!!


Once everyone arrived, we were given our “tools” for the scavenger hunt.
We had our nifty security badges, an “x-ray machine” (the iPad), and a map!

According to our map, our adventure started in the Ancient Americas exhibit.

While, yes, we were on the hunt for clues to scan with our x-ray machine and puzzles to figure out with our map, I was so enthralled with the Ancient Americas exhibit! It’s been probably about a decade since I’ve walked through it and GEEZE, there’s so much in there! So many ornate and beautifully preserved items.

Also (and I’ll probably say this again in this post so forgive me) the Field Museum has discovered a really magical and artistic way of curating and displaying the things in their exhibits. Things like lighting, authentic reimagining of the lives and stories the items in the exhibits once held, and the spacing of the items–it all rivals the art museum in beauty. It’s super impressive and I challenge y’all to pay attention to things like that when you walk through a museum. Like I said, the Field Museum has it on lock.

When we found an object in the exhibits, we would scan it with our “X-ray” machine and find another clue, or answer in our map.

Once we found all of the clues in the Ancient Americas exhibit, we headed over to the Egyptian exhibit. For this particular part of the exhibit we had to decipher the hieroglyphics on this door to reveal a hidden message. I won’t tell you how or what the message was, because this scavenger hunt is happening through the end of April! But this puzzle was hard and it felt super rewarding once we figured it out!

After figuring out all that we needed to from the Egyptian exhibit, we were finally headed to the Mummies exhibit!

Like previous exhibits at the Field Museum, this exhibit was wonderfully married to technology. I looove this wonderful and encouraging embrace of technology, because it makes things more hands on, and shows so much more than surface level things.

For instance, for this exhibit, they took scans of the mummies and of the artifacts they had on display and used them in the exhibit. In fact, some of the things we scanned for the scavenger hunt showed us the real visuals from the scans!

Again, the lighting and the pacing of the exhibit created a somber and reverent kind of environment.

On a kind of funny note, this particular sarcophagus had exposed breasts to indicate that the body inside was female. There was no other reason. Just that one.

After looking and being left absolutely awestruck through the exhibit, we found all the clues and we headed to the chapel!

Again, I can’t say where the chapel is located, because the scavenger hunt is still happening and I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s hidden in such an unexpected place!
I couldn’t believe it.

I also couldn’t believe that this chapel still held COLOR from when it was first created.

Can you believe that? Color that this ancient Egyptian chamberlain saw when he prayed in this chapel.

It was such a cool experience to see this hidden chapel, but I think I enjoyed delving into the exhibits even more. I know that I need to go back and visit the Ancient Americas exhibit, but also the others as well! I want to see them with fresh eyes and a new perspective and appreciation that I probably never had during a school field trip.

Basically, get your butts to the Field Museum (or to your local science museum).

Light & Love,


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