17 December 2019
From 14 January, visitors to Perth Museum & Art Gallery will be able to watch as conservators perform the delicate task of treating museum objects inside a purpose-built conservation studio.
Conservation in Action: Saving the Perth Mummy will showcase how museums look after the fragile objects in their care and will include the live conservation of objects from the collection.
The highlight of the exhibition will be the museum’s ancient Egyptian Mummy, Ta-Kr-Hb (pictured). The story of the object is one that has fascinated visitors and staff since she was first presented to the Perth Museum from Alloa Museum in the 1930s.
She was donated by the Alloa Society of Natural Science and Archaeology in 1936 by William Bailey, who purchased it from the curator of the government museum, Cairo. It had been discovered three or four years before this (possibly in or around Thebes). When discovered she was said to be 2,800 years old and would thus be described as the Late New Kingdom.
Moving the Perth Mummy
The Perth Mummy has been kept safe in the museum stores, but conservation work is needed to make sure her condition does not deteriorate and that she can be safely moved and displayed. It is hoped that conservation of the coffin lid will reveal more hieroglyphics, providing information about Ta-Kr-Hb’s life.
Appearing alongside Ta-Kr-Hb will be further examples from the museums’ diverse collection of over 430,000 objects. These include a rare 17th-century doublet (shown left), a mummified ibis, a Korean ceremonial helmet and a doll’s house made by a high-ranking Nazi prisoner of war.
The exhibition will illustrate the ways in which objects like these, made of different materials and at different times, can be damaged. It will also explore some of the ethical questions museums consider around conservation and will spotlight the different ways in which curators and conservators work to safeguard collections for future generations.
Local cultural charity, Culture Perth and Kinross is currently campaigning to raise money for the conservation of Ta-Kr-Hb as she prepares to go on display at the redeveloped City Hall Museum in 2022.
To donate, visit the Just Giving page here.
Images: Courtesy of Culture Perth & Kinross