Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt The term culture is one that can be defined in many ways. Culture is defined as: the ideas, activities, and ways of behaving that are special to a country, people, or region. Museums such as the Field Museum attempt to give its visitors a sense of the culture and history of different countries, as well as a sense of US culture and history. In this quest however, museums often focus on one specific nature of the culture [of a country] and lose sight of the whole picture – the entire culture. After all, the US culture is primarily a capitalistic one, and museums – in addition to their quest to educate the American public – overemphasize what they feel is the most intriguing aspect of a specific culture.
In this manner, museum officials are looking to attract more people and consequently bring in more money. Capitalistically speaking, it is in their best interest to overstress the parts of an exhibit to which the public will be attracted. In doing so, however, the museum visitor does not get an objective view of the culture of a country. The Field Museum’s approach to Ancient Egyptian culture attempts to cover all bases of the culture, but falls seriously short of doing just this. The Museum focuses too much on the Ancient Egyptian approach to death and the afterlife in a serious, informative aspect.
This is done by the sheer location of the exhibit, providing numerous historical plaques, and by the mysterious, alluring atmosphere of the pyramid exhibit that the Museum gives to the visitor. Yet the Museum downplays the daily life of the Ancient Egyptians by pushing this less intriguing exhibit behind the afterlife exhibit, by providing few informative historical plaques, and by filling the exhibit with cartoons of the everyday life of the Ancient Egyptian, thereby simplifying the exhibit. Therefore, although the Ancient Egypt exhibit preserves a good sense of the preparation of death and afterlife aspect of the ancient Egyptian culture, it lacks in providing such a sound exhibit for the daily life of the ancient Egyptians, thereby portraying a false impression of Egyptian culture to the public. Located on the first floor of the museum, the Ancient Egyptian exhibit attracts visitors immediately; the ominous immense pyramid creates a dark, mysterious presence, and invites visitors to step inside. The first impression of the exhibit is of a focus on death and the afterlife. This may lead to the false impression that the Ancient Egyptian culture was driven around embalming and entombing dead bodies.
As one makes its way through the labyrinth of the pyramid, one is surrounded by recovered organ jars, tombs, mummified Egyptians and the artifacts that they were buried with. The walls of the pyramid are authentic limestone taken from actual sites in Egypt. Large woven tapestries hang from one of such walls and describe the afterlife and the gods involved. Gods are all represented as having animal heads, and bodies of humans. Wooden cases that would be placed inside the immense stone tombs, stand upright and are open for public viewing: hieroglyphics on the inside of the wooden encasing describe the procedure of the afterlife for the person entombed inside.
The pyramid houses many mummies, some of whose wrappings have come undone and allow the visitor to see the actual body of the mummy. The pyramid is a very captivating exhibit, and it’s location – its proximity to the entrance of the museum creates a false sense of the Ancient Egyptian culture. A visitor who knows nothing about the culture is lead to assume that the majority of Egyptian life was used to prepare for the after life. At the end of the pyramid, the visitor is lead to a small exhibit whose purpose is to portray a sense of the daily life of the ancient Egyptian. The location of this exhibit, behind the pyramid, gives the impression of being a less important and less frequent aspect of Egyptian culture.
The visitor is lead through a less cramped exhibit of the every day live of an ancient Egyptian. There is a display in which one can “envision himself as an Egyptian”: the visitor can put his face up to a pane of glass, behind which is a model of an Egyptian face. The visitor is shown how he would look as a typical ancient Egyptian. This exhibit, while interesting and entertaining, has very little to do with every day life of the ancient Egyptian. Through out the exhibit, there are few artifacts, and even less information on the daily events of an ancient Egyptian.
Two to three small, five-foot tall walls are painted with cartoon images of different scenarios that were”typical” of ancient Egyptian culture. This exhibit pales in comparison to the pyramid exhibit of ancient Egyptian life. In an attempt to give a complete view of ancient Egyptian culture, the Field Museum falls short. The impression that the museum gives to an uninformed visitor is that Ancient Egyptians spent most of their life preparing themselves for death and the afterlife. This is due to the set up of the Ancient Egyptian exhibit; the after life exhibit is put before the daily life exhibit, thereby making the afterlife more important and prominent.
In addition to the difference in location, another aspect of the Ancient Egypt exhibit promotes the emphasis on the afterlife and gives a biased view of the entire culture of the Ancient Egyptians. As one enters the pyramids, there are numerous informative historical plaques that give detailed information about the artifact or aspect of Egyptian life it is explaining. In contrast, the daily life exhibit gives little or no information on the daily life of the ancient Egyptians. As the visitor walks into the pyramid, he is presented with a plaque describing the hieroglyphics on the wall. The visitor is given a sense of the significance of the hieroglyphics, the meaning of them and the era in which they were written.
Farther into the exhibit, there were plaques describing the significance and the role of the jars which contained the organs of the person being mummified. Some plaques described the hieroglyphics inside of the wooden cases that the mummies were placed, before being buried in the large stone tombs. This kind of informative plaques was given for several, if not all, of the exhibits in the pyramid. On the contrary, in the daily life exhibit of the …