June 11, 2001
Renovations set the stage for mummies' debut in October
By Michael Terrazas firstname.lastname@example.org
Portions of the Carlos Museum will be temporarily closed on a rotating
basis this summer and fall as the museum undergoes moderate renovations
before unveiling its new and vastly improved Egyptian and Near Asian collectionno
small feat considering the Carlos already prided itself on its holdings
from the land of pyramids.
Ever since the museum acquired the ancient Egyptian holdings of a Canadian
museum near Niagara Falls in 1999 (for the price of $2 million, most of
which came through donations from the Atlanta community), Director Tony
Hirschel knew renovations would have to be made. Though the museum has
displayed some of the pieces in limited exhibitions, the rest of the catalog
has not be made public.
It was clear that the community paid for this and we should move
quickly, but our building was full, Hirschel said. Another reason
had to do with the objects scale; many pieces in the acquisitionnow
known as the Charlotte Lichirie Collection of Ancient Egyptian Artifactswould
be best displayed stood on end, and the current Egyptian galleries feature
lower ceilings than other parts of the museum.
Basically, the two Carlos end galleries will flip, with the Ancient Americas
holdings moving to the space presently occupied by Egyptian pieces, and
vice versa. However other sections of the museum will close temporarily
to facilitate the renovations. The Ancient Americas galleries have already
closed. On June 24, the John Howett Works on Paper Study Room will close,
and on July 9 the rest of the first-floor galleries will close, including
the Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Near Eastern and Asian rooms.
But all the inconveniences will pay off in October, when the new Egyptian
galleries debut, New Acquisitions of Old Masters: Dürer to
Delacroix opens and The Arts of India and the Himalayas
reopens on Oct. 6. At no point during the renovations will the entire
museum close, and the third-floor exhibit, The Collectors
Eye: Masterpieces of Egyptian Art from the Thalassic Collection,
will remain open throughout.
[The museum] will be quite significantly transformed, Hirschel
said. I think it will be very dramatic.
However, visitors might be disappointed to learn that one of the more
anticipated pieces in the Lichirie collection, the mummy believed possibly
to be Ramesses I, will be kept in isolation and out of public view. Ever
since Emory acquired the collection, researchers have been working to
define a protocol by which they may determine whether this particularly
elderly gentleman is in fact the only former pharaoh residing outside
of Egypt. But Hirschel said the answer may be a long time in coming, if
It was easy to overlook in the enthusiasm [when the mummy was acquired],
but the difficulties are significant in making the identification,
The most promising technique could be through a paternity-tracing method
that tracks Y-chromosomes. The test gained some notoriety recently when
it was used to try to determine whether Thomas Jefferson fathered any
children with slave Sally Hemings.
There are three possibilitieswe find out conclusively that he is Ramesses, we find out conclusively that he is not Ramesses, or we never find out, Hirschel said. At this point, all three are equally likely. The mummy is almost certainly royal, but is he Ramesses? We may never know.