A Day at the Berkshire Musuem

Mummified in the Berkshires

The performance of "The Mummy's Tale and Other Stories from the Great Beyond" sparked the boys imaginations! (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

As the heat wave continued, the boys and I packed it all up for a full day at The Berkshire Museum, including a performance of The Mummy’s Tale and Other Stories from the Great Beyond. My youngest child is four years old so I was unsure he’d be able to sit through a play. I was even a little nervous that he might be scared of the mummy, or more likely of the house lights going dark.  It turned out there was nothing to fear and so much to enjoy. Ancient myths are comics full larger than life characters – the very good, the ever so bad, all saviors, helpers, hopeless causes. Because of this, the boys just ate them up. They jeered at bad guys and cheered for happy endings. We all danced and laughed along with the young cast who came out after the show to thank the audience and gave the little kids high-fives and big smiles.

After the show, we wandered downstairs for Chow Time at the aquarium, which is held each Saturday at 12:30. We watched tortoises crunch salads bigger than their shells, turtles dive for earthworms and geckos go for jumping crickets.  After a quick stop at the touch tank to visit with the sea-stars, we headed upstairs.

Mummy Jigsaw Puzzle (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

The current exhibit , Wrapped: The Search for the Essential Mummy, is open through the end of October. It’s an extensive adventure into the forensic science of exploring mummies.  The interactive science exhibits were fun, but what my boys truly loved was the art.  The performance had sparked their imaginations. We spent the afternoon examining hieroglyphs, tomb art, headdresses and necklaces. If you go, don’t miss the mummified animals – snakes, cats and more, wrapped to spend eternity with their beloved owners, I suppose.

We moved back down stairs where the Berkshire Backyard exhibit showed us how much there will always be more to explore in the amazing Berkshires. The kids and I tested our animal tracking skills – more successfully than ever this time. We flight tested feathers and even examined a working bee hive, which included access via a plexiglass tube through a window, to the actual outside Berkshires!

Dinosaur excavation (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

Just before it was time to go, we had our own excavation in the dinosaur exhibit. Once goggled, the boys dug industriously in the pea stones dumping them in the trenches to uncover their own dinosaur discoveries. Theo insisted on digging for mummies or snake mummies, but kept finding dinosaur bones anyway. He was the smallest most aggravated little excavator around that day. “This is not a mummy! It’s a dinosaur!”

We left the Berkshire Museum with a few corners not yet explored and made note to come back for more adventures in the fall.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

Mummies Come to the Berkshires

Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy
Tells the Inside Story of Mummies: both figuratively and literally!

"Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy" will be on view from June 19 to October 31, 2010. at the Berkshire Museum in Downtown Pittsfield. FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL: On June 20th, kids can bring their Dads for Free!

Museum visitors often leave an exhibition of Egyptian artifacts with the impression that mummies are all the same and that all mummies were kings or princes during their lives. In reality, mummies are individuals; they vary in terms of their manner of preparation, the decoration of their sarcophagi, and the region in which they lived. And, of course, before they were mummies, they were living people, of either gender, belonging to different classes, working in a variety of occupations – who died of as many causes as people die today. Underneath their ancient linen wrappings lies a multitude of mysteries often too great for scientists and researchers to uncover. Nevertheless, since their first discovery by Western cultures, seekers across the centuries have been trying to unwrap the secrets of mummies.

From June 19 to October 31, 2010, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA will take museum visitors several steps closer on this quest. The Museum’s groundbreaking, world-premiere exhibition, Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy, transports visitors to the Egyptian tombs of Akhmim and the funerary tables and labs of ancient mortuaries; through the discovery of mummies by Western explorers and the ensuing “unrolling” soirees of the 19th century, to current-day mummy research, including reconstruction of mummies’ facial features in sculptural busts and digitizing mummies’ body cavities using cutting-edge scanning technology from the leading radiology labs of North America.

Wrapped! takes visitors to the awesome cliffs of Akhmim, Egypt and its sprawling cemetery– 300 miles south of Cairo – the year is 1884 and mummies are being pulled from their ancient tombs by the hundreds. Among those buried in the loose limestone of Akhmim was Pahat, who lived a full life as a smaty priest of the temple cult of Min. Pahat was carefully mummified 2,300 years ago with the best funerary methods and craftsmanship of his era. At the turn of the 20th century, Pahat was excavated, removed from his resting place, and eventually sold to Zenas Crane in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for the now-paltry sum of $300. Crane donated Pahat to Berkshire Museum, which the philanthropist founded in 1903, where the prized mummy has remained on display to this day.

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