Largest mummy exhibition arrives at California Science Center

A "man in black" stands guard on Friday, May 28, 2010 beside a moving truck carrying "Mummies of the World," the basis for a new exhibit at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Corey Moore/KPCC

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California Science Center officials hope the next major exhibit will be a summer blockbuster. Beginning July 1, 2010 the museum’s opening its largest-ever collection of mummies.

More than 100 of them, and their artifacts, traveled nearly 6,000 miles across the globe for the “Mummies of the World” exhibition. Traveling on a 13-mile ride from LA International Airport to the Science Center, the mummies received better red carpet treatment then some A-list Hollywood talent.

One hundred fifty mummies and various artifacts were carefully packed in climate-controlled containers, guarded by men in black.

William Harris, senior vice president for exhibits at the California Science Center, said the display didn’t just originate in Egypt.

“We’ll have an actual family found in a crypt in Bosch Hungary,” said Harris. “They lived in the 1700s and we now know they all died of consequences of tuberculosis. So for the first time we’re actually going to study them and do cat scans telling more about tuberculosis in the 1700s.”

The mummies also hail from South America, Asia and Germany where the museum project began several years ago. Researchers used DNA testing, CT scanning and radio carbon dating to learn more about how humans – and animals - lived and died thousands of years ago.

James Delay, vice president of American Exhibitions, said one of the most remarkable discoveries on display will be a child mummy from Peru.

“The oldest right now is a mummy that’s well over six thousand 500 years old," Delay said. "It’s a small mummy that because of science it was radio carbon dated to show that it’s well over 6,500 years old. Quite a bit older than King Tut or even Otzi, the Ice Man in Italy.”

During the next several weeks, curators will fly to LA from around the world to help unpack the remains and prepare them for their close encounters with museum visitors.

The “Mummies of the World” exhibit will travel to seven cities over the next three years.