SECRETS OF THE MUMMY
The lives of ancient Egyptians and Greeks are explained at a new gallery opening in Maidstone. And it’s all down to one woman – Kent’s only adult mummy, as Angela Cole finds out
The sights, sounds and even smells of an ancient world will greet visitors to a new gallery opening in Maidstone. Step through the doors of Maidstone Museum from next week and you’ll be stepping back thousands of years into the world of Egyptians and Greeks.
And the woman to inspire it all was Ta-kush, the mummy.
Although she had long been on show at the St Faiths Street museum, last year she underwent detailed analysis using the latest technology which revealed her age and what she would have looked like. CT scans at KIMS Hospital in Maidstone found her to be more than 2,700 years old. Liverpool John Moores University also analysed the scans to create a facial reconstruction of what she might have looked like.
Visitors to the new gallery, created as part of a major refurbishment project at the museum, will be able to hear her story, as well as explore the rich and diverse lives of everyday Egyptians and Greeks through a series of themed displays and interactive stations.
They will also be able to see Ta-kush’s coffin lid with its coloured interior showing the goddess Nut, which will be on display for the first time.
You’ll be able to learn about the methods used to learn more about her life, including the CT scans and a short film about how she arrived at Maidstone.
Lyn Palmer, public programming manager at Maidstone Museum, said: “We are excited to unveil the new Ancient Lives gallery as a fantastic space that will inform and entertain.”
The new gallery and refurbishment work has been made possible by a £78,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Items from the gallery were also scanned including what had been thought to be a mummified hawk, but which was discovered to be a 20-week foetus, one of the youngest human mummies recorded in the world.
Thanks to the latest technology, the investigations were carried out with the minimum disruption to the artefacts.
Maidstone Museum holds more than 600,000 artefacts and specimens, making it the largest collection in Kent. It includes items from North and South America, the Pacific and Australasia. There are more than 6,000 paintings and prints and drawings and sculpture by Epstein and Moore. There are also medals and memorabilia from the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regimental collection, as well as 40,000 fossils including the remains of Maidstone’s very own dinosaur, the iguanodon. The refurbishment project to create the Ancient Lives Gallery was made possible by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the Maidstone Museums Foundation and local donors. The museum worked with Kent Association for the Blind to make sure the space was suitable for visuallyimpaired visitors and also includes a new lift and ramps to improve accessibility.
Ta-kush was the inspiration for the new gallery
The mummy went through detailed analysis revealing her age and what she looked like
Lady Godiva is an impressive sight
Ta-kush in the CT scan
The reconstruction of the iguanodon
Ta-kush undergoes tests