Tag Archives: museum

Egypt parades royal mummies amid move to new museum

Egypt held a gala parade on Saturday celebrating the transport of 22 of its prized royal mummies from central Cairo to their new resting place in a massive new museum further south in the capital.

The ceremony, designed to showcase the country’s rich heritage, snaked along the Nile corniche from the Egyptian Museum overlooking Tahrir Square, to the newly opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in the Fustat neighborhood, where Egypt’s first Islamic capital was located.

The mummies were being transported in climate-controlled cases loaded onto trucks decorated with wings and pharaonic design for the hour-long journey from their previous home in the older, Egyptian Museum. The vehicles were designed to appear like the ancient boats used to carry deceased pharaohs to their tombs.

Most of the mummies belong to the ancient New Kingdom, which ruled Egypt between 1539 B.C. to 1075 B.C., according to the ministry of antiquities.

They include Ramses II, one of the country’s most famous pharaohs, and Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s only woman Pharaoh — who wore a false beard to overcome tradition requiring women to play only secondary roles in the royal hierarchy.

A mummy is seen in a video screened during a ceremony of a transfer of Royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat. (Host Broadcaster/Reuters TV via Reuters)

The mummies — 18 pharaohs and four other royals — were originally buried around 3,000 years ago in secret tombs in the Valley of Kings and the nearby Deir el-Bahri site. Both areas are near the southern city of Luxor. The tombs were first excavated in the 19th century.

After excavation, the mummies were taken to Cairo by boats that sailed the Nile. Some were showcased in glass cases, while others were stored. The remains of Ramses II were taken to Paris in 1976 for intensive restoration work by French scientists.

The made-for-TV parade was part of Egypt’s efforts to attract foreign tourists by publicizing its ancient artifacts. The tourism industry has been reeling from political turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

“This parade is a unique global event that will not be repeated,” declared Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany.

Security is tight in the capital, with authorities closing off major streets and intersections all along the route for the slow-moving vehicles. Guards on horses and Egyptian celebrities and signers followed the motorcade.

The made-for-TV parade was part of Egypt’s efforts to attract foreign tourists by publicizing its ancient artifacts. (The Associated Press)

“Again, Egypt dazzles the world with an unrivalled event,” said movie star Hussein Fahmy in an official promotional video.

The event started in the late afternoon and was broadcast live on the country’s state-run television and other satellite stations. The Tourism and Antiquities Ministry also live-streamed it on social media platforms.

The “Pharaohs’ Golden Parade” circled Tahrir square, where authorities officially unveiled an obelisk and four sphinxes to now decorate Cairo’s most famous square.

The ‘Pharaohs’ Golden Parade’ circled Tahrir square, where authorities officially unveiled an obelisk and four sphinxes to now decorate Cairo’s most famous square. (The Associated Press)

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who will welcome the mummies at the new museum, tweeted: “This majestic scene is a new evidence of the greatness of this people, the guarding of this unique civilization that extends into the depths of history.”

Once at the new museum, 20 of the mummies will be displayed, while the remaining two will be stored, according to the ministry.

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Theodore Roosevelt statue to be removed from NYC’s American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History will remove a prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance after years of objections that it symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.

The bronze statue that has stood at the museum’s Central Park West entrance since 1940 depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and an African man standing next to the horse.

“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”

Taking to Twitter, President Donald Trump objected to the statue’s removal.

“Ridiculous, don’t do it!” he tweeted.

The museum’s president, Ellen Futter, told the New York Times that the museum’s “community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd.”

“We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism,” Futter told the Times.

Officials said it hasn’t been determined when the Roosevelt statue will be removed and where it will go.

“The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy,” Theodore Roosevelt IV, a great-grandson of the president, said in a statement to the Times. “It is time to move the statue and move forward.”

Futter said the museum objects to the statue but not to Roosevelt, a pioneering conservationist whose father was a founding member of the institution and who served as New York’s governor before becoming the 26th president. She said the museum is naming its Hall of Biodiversity for Roosevelt “in recognition of his conservation legacy.”

In 2017, protesters splashed red liquid on the statue’s base to represent blood and published a statement calling for its removal as an emblem of “patriarchy, white supremacy and settler-colonialism.”

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All Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments at the Museum of the Bible Are Forgeries

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Verifying the dates and authenticity of objects found for-sale on the worldwide antiquities market has always been a challenge for art collectors, museums, and dealers. As soon as something because popular enough to be collected, it becomes profitable to create a market for forged knockoffs.

In the early 2000s, a new set of purported fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls came up for sale on the antiquities market. In 2002, another set of Dead Sea Scroll-like fragments was located with some distinctly unusual characteristics compared with the known Dead Sea Scrolls, which have been heavily studied since they were discovered in the mid-20th century. Many were acquired by Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, who donated them to the Museum of the Bible.

The Museum of the Bible opened in 2017 but, facing doubts about the provenance of its 16 scroll fragments, it submitted five of them for authentication. In 2018, the Museum had to acknowledge all five of the sacred text fragments were fake. Next, the Museum sent off the other 11 fragments for authentication. As of Friday, as National Geographic reports, all 16 fragments purchased and shown as authentic have been confirmed as fraudulent.

The Museum of the Bible Appears to Have Handled This the Right Way

One point National Geographic makes up-front is that the Museum of the Bible has done a very good job at maintaining transparency at every step of the process. After the first five fragments were found to be fraudulent, the museum hired a respected art forgery investigation firm. That firm, Art Fraud Insights, insisted upon — and received — complete investigatory autonomy, including a public announcement of the findings, no matter what the findings were. “Honestly, I’ve never worked with a museum that was so up-front,” Colette Loll, the lead investigator, told National Geographic.


Great Isaiah Scroll, a genuine Dead Sea Scroll containing almost all of Isaiah. Image by Wikipedia

The team began with an analysis of the material the scraps were written on — leather, rather than the typical parchment of the DSS. The leather, however, was likely authentic and of appropriate age, possibly sourced from the same desert area that the Scrolls were found in. The scraps were soaked in an animal glue to mimic a signature glue-like layer actually found on many Scroll pieces. As National Geographic details, the deeper the research team looked, the clearer it was that the scraps had been faked.

It’s worth reading the story just to understand how sophisticated the forgery world can be. Green had purchased some of the scraps from William Kando, the son of the Bethlehem antiquities dealer Khalil Iskander Shahin (known as Kando) who had sold the first sets of authentic fragments from Bedouin traders after the Scrolls were discovered in 1947. The chain of ownership for some of the fragments runs through multiple individuals, some of whom told NG that they believed they were honestly buying (and selling) authentic artifacts.

Disclosing the outcome of its findings, even when they invalidate the entirety of its collection, was the right thing for the Museum of the Bible to do, full stop. One thing it does highlight, however, is how lax rules around the museum’s initial collection of artifacts have come back to haunt it. Here’s National Geographic:

In 2017, U.S. officials forced Hobby Lobby to return 5,500 illegally imported clay tablets to Iraq and pay a $ 3-million fine. In 2019, museum officials announced that 11 papyrus fragments in its collection had been sold to Hobby Lobby by Oxford professor Dirk Obbink, who is accused of stealing the fragments from a papyrus collection he oversaw.

The Museum has pledged to return all stolen artifacts to their rightful owners and has actually begun doing so. A manuscript found to be stolen from the University of Athens in 1991 was returned to that country last year. Kudos to the MotB for being honest about its issues, but it wouldn’t have had these problems if it had been slightly less willing to believe dubious stories about the archaeological provenance of suspicious artifacts.

Feature image is of a genuine Dead Sea Scroll. Image by Wikipedia

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Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at least partly fake, museum admits

When Washington's $ 500 million Museum of the Bible held its grand opening in November 2017, attended by Vice-President Mike Pence, there were questions even then about the authenticity of its centrepiece collection of Dead Sea Scrolls.

Now the museum has been forced to admit a painful truth: Technical analysis by a team of German scholars has revealed that at least five of the museum's 16 scroll fragments are apparent forgeries.

The announcement has serious implications not only for the Bible Museum but for other evangelical Christian individuals and institutions who paid top dollar for what now seems to be a massive case of archeological fraud.

Jeffrey Kloha, chief curator for the museum, said in a statement that the revelation is "an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency."

An analysis by a team of German scholars found five of the 16 scroll fragments are forgeries. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The scrolls are a collection of ancient Jewish religious texts first discovered in the mid-1940s in caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. The massive cache of Hebrew documents is believed to date back to the days of Jesus. With more than 9,000 documents and 50,000 fragments, the entire collection took decades to fully excavate.

Most of the scrolls and fragments are tightly controlled by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. But around 2002, a wave of new fragments began mysteriously appearing on the market, despite skepticism from Biblical scholars.

These fragments, they warned, were specifically designed to target American evangelical Christians, who prize the scrolls. That appears to be exactly what happened; a Baptist seminary in Texas and an evangelical college in California reportedly paid millions to purchase alleged pieces of the scrolls.

Also eagerly buying up fragments was the Green family, evangelical Oklahoma billionaires who run the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores and who famously sued the Obama administration on religious grounds, saying they didn't want to pay to provide their employees access to the morning-after pill or intrauterine devices.

The Greens are the primary backers of the Museum of the Bible and went on an archeological acquisition spree in the years leading up to the museum's opening. In addition to the alleged Dead Sea Scrolls fragments, the Greens ran afoul of the Justice Department, which said they had acquired thousands of smuggled artifacts looted from Iraq and elsewhere. The family agreed last year to return those artifacts and pay a $ 3 million US fine.

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Doctors to prescribe museum visits to help patients 'escape from their own pain'

A group of Canadian physicians will be writing a new kind of prescription starting next month — a trip to the museum.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and a Montreal-based doctors' association are launching a pilot project Nov. 1 to treat patients to a day of paintings, sculpture and relaxation.

One of the doctors behind the initiative says a trip to the museum can benefit people with conditions from mental illness and eating disorders to diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as those in palliative care.

"It's so rare in medicine that you prescribe something and you do not need to worry about all those side-effects or interactions with other medication," said Dr. Hélène Boyer, vice-president of Médecins francophones du Canada.

Under the pilot project, association members will be able to issue up to 50 prescriptions granting free admission to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for a family of four. (A single ticket for an adult can normally cost as much as $ 31.) 

Releases hormones, distracts from chronic pain

Nathalie Bondil, the museum's director general and chief curator, made her pitch to the association at their annual meeting. The physicians were intrigued by the idea.

"We know that art stimulates neural activity," said Bondil, whose museum already employs a full-time art therapist to hold creative workshops for those with chronic illness.

"What we see is that the fact that you are in contact with culture, with art, can really help your well-being."

Dr. Hélène Boyer says she's excited to prescribe a trip to the museum to patients. (Sean Henry/CBC Montreal)

Doctors who are members of the association will be able to prescribe a free trip to the museum.

The prescription is good for two adults and two children under 17.

Taking in the art with loved ones is key to the treatment, said Bondil.

MMFA director general and chief curator Nathalie Bondil made her pitch to the association at its annual meeting.

Boyer admits they're treading on uncharted ground, but the simple act of getting out and focusing on something other than their condition can work wonders on a patient's outlook.

It can cause a release of hormones, she said, that is otherwise difficult to attain for those with chronic pain who have trouble maintaining regular physical activity.

'Modern cathedral'

The museum visits complement, don't supplement, more traditional treatment.

"What is most important is to have this experience which is to help them escape from their own pain," said Bondil.

"When you enter the museum, you escape from the speed of our daily life. It's a kind of modern cathedral."

While only doctors who are part of the association can participate in the pilot project, Boyer encourages anglophone physicians to join so that they can also take part.

Doctors will follow up with patients to see if there are any changes in their conditions, and after the project runs for one year, they will prepare a report with their cumulative findings.

The museum is already involved in 10 clinical trials assessing the impact of art on health. It is looking to help a broad range of patients, including people with eating disorders, breast cancer, epilepsy, mental illness and Alzheimer's disease.

With files from Sean Henry and The Canadian Press

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'Incalculable loss' as massive fire tears through Brazil's 200-year old National Museum

A massive fire raced through Brazil's 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, probably destroying its collection of more than 20 million items, ranging from archeological finds to historical memorabilia.

The destruction of the building, once a palace for emperors that had fallen into disrepair, was an "incalculable loss for Brazil," President Michel Temer said in a statement.

"Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost."

The museum was founded in 1818. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

There was no word of the possible cause late on Sunday, nor if there were casualties or the exact extent of damage.

Firefighters in Rio did not reply to requests for comment.

Collections included oldest human fossil in Brazil

Live television broadcast images of the fire, which began after the end of visiting hours at 5 p.m., burning out of control throughout the building late into the night.

The museum, which is tied to the Rio de Janeiro federal university and the education ministry, was founded in 1818. It houses several landmark collections, including Egyptian artifacts and the oldest human fossil found in Brazil.

The museum had suffered from years of neglect under numerous governments, the institution's vice-director told the Globo TV network on Sunday night.

The museum had secured millions in financing earlier this year. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

"We never got anything from the federal government," said the official, Luiz Duarte. "We recently finalized an agreement with [state-run development bank] BNDES for a massive investment, so that we could finally restore the palace and, ironically, we had planned on a new fire prevention system."

In a statement posted on its website in June, BNDES agreed to financing of $ 6.9 million Cdn to "physically restore the historic building" and also to carry out work to "guarantee more security to its collections."

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O.J. Simpson museum turns morbid merchandise into art

A pop-up museum in Los Angeles is trying to show just how low society sank in its fascination with O.J. Simpson’s murder trial — and the writing’s on the wall.

The exhibit, open to the public this weekend, showcases items from board games to souvenir T-shirts which were sold around the time of Simpson’s infamous car chase, murder trial and eventual acquittal in 1995.

“I’d never really seen anything that kind of put together the fan culture that surrounded O.J., both positive and negative,” said Adam Papagan, who spent years collecting the merchandise and is the curator. “We wanted to do something that showcased that side of the story.”

OJ Simpson museum

Curator and collector Adam Papagan sets up the many items on display, which were gathered over several years, purchased online or borrowed for the exhibit. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Papagan, born and raised in Los Angeles in a community not far from where the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were discovered, says he always had a fascination with the trial and public reaction to it.

“Even from age six, it was that this is a unbelievable event. It is very strange and out of the ordinary and people don’t know what to make of it.”

Boardgames, lottery tickets, wall of T-shirts

The museum includes hundreds of weird, quirky and at times, disturbing paraphernalia designed to make visitors think about just how far people went to monetize the worldwide fascination with the case.

Among them, a “Squeeze the Juice” boardgame, in which the object is to drain Simpson of his financial resources as part of his legal defence team. The “lawyer” who gouges him the most wins.

O.J. Simpson trial paraphernalia

An O.J. Simpson pop-up museum in L.A. is featuring items, many of them distasteful, which were marketed and sold to capitalize on the fascination and popularity of the murder trial. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

There’s also a special set of Pogs, a milk caps game popular in the 1990s, with the faces of Simpson, Brown and Goldman on them. Pogs were geared toward children.

O.J. Simpson trial paraphernalia

This photo shows various collector items involving references to Simpson and his murder victims: Pogs with the faces of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, a card with Simpson’s football stats and a photo card showing a scene from the infamous car chase on an L.A. freeway. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Simpson-related lottery tickets, phone cards and even a variation of Monopoly called “OJopoly” are also on display.

One wall of the exhibit is covered with dozens of trial-related T-shirts, collected by Papagan’s collaborator, Martin Hugo.

“I think this is a perfect example of the public feeling, this urge to communicate their opinions on a news event,” said Hugo. “It’s advertising what you think about this murder trial.”

O.J. Simpson museum

One wall of the exhibit is covered with close to 80 T-shirts related to the verdict, which were sold during the trial. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Making a buck, making a statement

There has been renewed interest in Simpson since the former football star was granted parole in July after serving almost nine years in a Nevada prison for a Las Vegas hotel heist. He’s set to be released in October.

Visitors to the museum said the collection took them right back to the days of the trial.

“I followed it daily,” said Darren Kennedy. “If I had to work, I recorded it.”

“There was such a public response,” said Kenneth Marks. “A bunch of people made this stuff, the T-shirts, the games. Were they trying to cash in or were they just trying to make a statement about society?”

OJ Simpson museum

Darren Kennedy was one of the first visitors at the pop-up, saying he was glued to the TV during the 1994-95 trial. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

‘Art comes from a place of response and reaction’

Recent films, including the Oscar-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America and the Emmy-winning miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, have examined the racial divide promulgated by the trial and the voyeuristic, round-the-clock coverage which seemed to leave the victims and their families as an afterthought.

“There is no way to escape the fact that two people were brutally and hideously murdered in a wealthy suburb,” said Lisa Derrick, who runs the downtown L.A. gallery housing the exhibit.

“And from that comes these reactions of shock and horror. And how do we deal with horror a lot of times? With very sick humour. Art comes from a place of response and reaction.”

Reaction wan’t limited to the exhibit’s walls. People were quick to snap photos of a white Ford Bronco parked at the entrance — the same make and model as the one used in Simpson’s 1994 televised car chase.

OJ Simpson museum

Kenneth Marks and Rita Safie pose for a selfie in front of a white Ford Bronco parked at the museum’s entrance, similar in make and model to the one used in Simpson’s 1994 televised car chase. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Papagan purchased the vehicle partly through crowd-funding and is considering using it for his day job: giving tours in the city related to the murders and trial.

“Just because something is upsetting doesn’t mean that it’s not worth talking about and exploring,” he said.

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