Get lost: New Science Center exhibit examines ancient Egypt | St. Louis Public Radio

Get lost: New Science Center exhibit examines ancient Egypt

May 24, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - With the St. Louis Science Center's new exhibit, “Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science,” you can peel back the layers of an ancient civilization that continues to fascinate people.

Literally.

Using scans and forensic facial reconstructions, those who developed the exhibit let people see what a mummy looks like underneath the wrappings. There’s even a mummy prototype in the stages of unwrapping.

“Lost Egypt” combines real images shot in Egypt with art and artifacts as well as interactive and family-friendly features and explanations of the science behind it and the funerary culture of the time. It opens May 25 and runs through Sept. 2.

“It’s a combination of all the great things you can put in an exhibit,” says Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the St. Louis Science Center.

Visitors begin in an area that looks and feels like modern Egypt where they can learn about the people working there today. The Field Site shows the tools and technology scientists and anthropologists are using at the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders. The Ancient Egyptian Culture section provides a place to explore funerary culture, as well as the art and language of the time. And the laboratory houses X-rays and CT scans that tell the stories of what’s underneath all those wrappings.

“Lost Egypt” does have a human mummy, as well as animal mummies, and the latter offer further understanding of the kinds of animals in Egypt at the time.

The 6,000-square-foot exhibit has a large (not real) camel visitors can sit on for a photo op, as well as hands-on activities, including a chance to see how the pyramid builders worked. You can try it out for yourself, says Vescolani.

There’s also space to explore hieroglyphics, challenging kids to decode messages throughout the exhibit, he says.

"Lost Egypt" itself is more than just another way to see mummies and hieroglyphs, though. It pulls back the curtain to show the work of the scientists and anthropologists at dig sites, the math used to create pyramids, and the science used to continue making discoveries and understanding this ancient culture.

And as technology gets better, Vescolani says, those scientists are better able to unravel the mysteries of ancient Egypt.

“People are always interested in mummies and pyramids and all these things,” Vescolani says. “But there’s a whole lot of science behind it.”

The traveling exhibit was created by the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, and built by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

After exploring the exhibit, you can head over to the Omnimax for “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs,” which tells the story of a 19th century expedition in search of mummies.

Tickets to “Lost Egypt” cost $12 for adults and $10 for children, or you can get tickets for both the exhibit and the film for $15 for adults and $12 for children. For more, go to www.slsc.org.