SAN ANTONIO – The Mummies of the World
exhibit showcasing dozens of perfectly-preserved human beings is about to go on display at the Witte Museum
Mummies just might be the most irreplaceable people on Earth, so security surrounding the exhibit is very tight.
"This is the oldest mummy in the exhibition,” Marcus Corwin with Mummies of the World says about a child mummy. “That's 3,000 years older than King Tut."
Just an infant at death, the South American baby with a head still full of hair is now 6,400 years old.
"You can see there's a little fiberboard base on the underside of the mummy between the blue and the mummy,” Dr. Heather Gill-Frerking says while pointing out how the bodies are stabilized.
She’s one of the experts charged with protecting the mummies.
"Absolutely invaluable,” Dr. Gill-Frerking describes them. “We simply cannot – they are just so rare, so precious, and they are human beings. So it's just totally inappropriate to put a dollar amount on a human being."
Exhibit producers are mum on exactly how much the mummies are worth except to say they’re insured for millions upon millions of dollars.
"I think that would be accurate,” Corwin says. “That would absolutely be accurate."
So when the exhibit moved to San Antonio, the mummies traveled with a police escort in custom cases and packing material.
"We come in with eight semi tractor trailers,” Corwin says. "Once they're placed in the cases, they're not removed from these cases and these cases are not opened up again until the exhibition closes."
The music and the lighting create a certain mood within the gallery and they're also vital parts of preserving the mummified people.
"Every mummy is monitored in terms of temperature and humidity,” Dr. Gill-Frerking says.
If they’re exposed to too much light or heat for even a few minutes, the fragile bodies could deteriorate.
"There's always a risk anytime you touch a mummy that bandage or skin or hair will crumble a little bit,” Dr. Gill-Frerking says. “We handle them very carefully with gloves."
Corwin says no chances are taken when it comes to security.
"We monitor the exhibit with closed-circuit cameras 24 hours a day,” he says.
The precautions ensure we have thousands of years worth of chances to come face-to-face with the incredible immortals.
Despite all the security, most of the glass cases provide 360-degree views of the mummies.
The exhibit opens this Saturday, September 29, at the Witte Museum and runs until the end of January 2013.