Late winter exhibits: Mummies, explosions and more mummies

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Mummies from the Field Museum's permanent exhibit "Inside Ancient Egypt"

Mummies from the Field Museum's permanent exhibit "Inside Ancient Egypt"


The annual January dearth of exhibits ends soon. Come February, Chicago's museums become a nerd's paradise. Here are four to look forward to.

"Opening the Vaults: Mummies" at the Field Museum, Feb 17–Apr 22
In 2011, Field Museum scientists performed CT scans of more than 20 rarely seen mummies from Egypt and Peru. (The Oriental Institute conducted CT scans on a mummy a few years ago. Just saying.) Before the Field Museum's fragile, 900- to 5,500-year-old mummies are placed back in storage for safe keeping, they will be on display and paired with CT scans, which reveal injuries, preservation techniques and the occasional jewel tucked away in the wrappings. People love mummies (mysterious + very old = fascinating), so I can see these tickets going fast; pre-order them at fieldmuseum.org.

"Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East" at the Oriental Institute Museum, Feb 7–Sept 2
We know not to trust Disney representations of the ancient world, but this exhibit tells us we should be wary of textbook images as well. Discover how books and museums have accidentally created false representations, including a queen Nefrititi with improved-upon looks, a dubious mother-goddess cult and King Tut's tomb made better with a little prop styling.

"Genghis Khan" at the Field Museum, Feb 24–Sept 3
One of my favorite exhibits of all time is "Catherine the Great," which, as a 10-year-old, I journeyed to see at the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis. It must've contained nearly everything she'd owned: piles and piles of jewelry, silk and a memorable gold and red-velvet carriage. "Genghis Khan," coming to the Field Museum, sounds like it might be awfully similar. Yay! According to the press release, the show contains "more than 200 stunning items including gold jewelry, weaponry, silk robes and religious relics." Also on display: A recently uncovered mummy. What a surprise.

"MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibit" at the Museum of Science and Industry, Mar 15–Sept 3
The Emmy-nominated show that convinced me to keep milk nearby when eating spicy foods (apparently cheese contains casein, which removes spicy oil) inspires a science exhibit. The Museum of Science and Industry purports to let you "test theories at MSI—the only place that lets you become a real MythBuster!" Since no one wants to accidently shoot a cannonball through a wall, trained museum staffers also conduct experiments for you to view at a distance.


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