A mid-sized Hoosier city might seem an odd final resting place for an authentic Egyptian mummy, yet Richmond is home to two.
The only Egyptian mummies on permanent display in Indiana lie just a mile and a half apart for easy viewing — one at the Wayne County Historical Museum in downtown Richmond and the other at the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History on the Earlham College campus on the west side of the city.
Wayne County Historical Museum founder Julia Gaar purchased the 3,000-year-old male mummy now on display at the facility in Cairo, Egypt back in 1929.
These days, curious visitors can get an up-close look at not just the mummy, but also 12 cases of related artifacts and objects, a light-up CT scan of the mummy’s bone structure and a 3D recreation of the mummy’s face done by a forensic artist. (The rest of the museum is full of fascinating exhibits populated with items Gaar managed to collect during her extensive world travels, well worth blocking off an afternoon to explore.)
The National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded a grant to preserve "Lady Ta’an," the female mummy that resides on the lower level of the Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College. According to provenance background, Lady Ta’an was brought to Earlham from Egypt in 1889 by Joseph John Mills, a past president of the college.
A true survivor, Lady Ta'an was one of the few objects in the collections to survive a massive fire at the museum in 1924. Along with live animals and several full-size dinosaur skeletons, she remains one of the facility’s most popular attractions.
For more information about the Wayne County Historical Museum, visit waynecountyhistoricalmuseum.org. For more information about the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History at Earlham College, visit earlham.edu/joseph-moore-museum.