More than 1200 people visited the Royal Cornwall Museum
in Truro for the launch of Unwrapping the Past a brand new permanent exhibition that has Iset-tayef-nakht, an unwrapped Egyptian mummy, as its centrepiece.
Children and adults of all ages flocked to see a wide range of ancient artefacts including several on loan from the British Museum and take part in activities including building a pyramid, a Greek temple and a Roman villa, listening to great works of literature from the likes of Socrates and Plato being spoken in their native tongue and finding out how to make a mummy at the shows mummy factory.
Iset-tayef-nakhts sarcophagus is one of the exhibitions highlights displayed in its own case with lighting that makes the very best of the wonderful hieroglyphics both inside and out. The story behind those hieroglyphics revealing the Egyptians belief in the afterlife process is told in a fascinating rolling video.
Isets remains lie in a tomb-like structure that visitors can choose to enter if they wish. He was an Egyptian priest, craftsman, husband and father who lived more than 2500 years ago and, thanks to a recent CAT scan and subsequent specialist reconstruction of his head, visitors can now see what he look liked.
Another very popular exhibition attraction is the British Museums statue of Sekhmet, the lioness goddess. Thought to protect and defend, more than 700 statues of her were commissioned during the reign of Amenhotep III to ward off a series of plagues.
The new gallery was funded by a grant of £233,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), £55,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and £10,000 from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts.
Simon Timms, HLF South West committee chairman, performed the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at a special evening event attended by over 300 guests.
The Heritage Lottery Fund granted the money for this exhibition for three reasons, he said. Firstly, because the sheer quality of the Royal Cornwall Museum makes it very special, secondly because all the project management work was carried out in-house by its dedicated, highly skilled staff and thirdly because it makes heritage accessible to everyone.
Lesley Fitton, Keeper of the British Museums Greece and Roman Department, told guests she was fascinated to see how their loaned artefacts had been integrated.
Sekhmet looks wonderful and all the objects support the gallerys story, she said. There is so much to see and do its a great testament to the hard work of all the staff and volunteers involved. The British Museum greatly appreciates its relationship with the Royal Cornwall Museum and discussions are ongoing regarding future collaborations.
Entry to the Royal Cornwall Museum in River Street, Truro, costs £5 per adult for a one year pass and is free to anyone aged 18 and under.