Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 19:38 UK

Egyptian mummies are covered up

Manchester museum mummy
Three of the museum's mummies have been covered

Egyptian mummies at Manchester Museum have been covered up after complaints from a small number of visitors.

Concerns were raised during a public consultation the museum is holding on the ethics of showing human remains as part of its Egyptology collection.

The unwrapped mummy of Asru, the partially-wrapped mummy of Khary, and a child mummy have been covered.

On its website, the museum said the covering was to ensure that the human remains were "treated with respect".

Museum bosses launched the public debate about the way it shows human remains following the controversy stirred up by the arrival of the Body Worlds 4 exhibition at another city museum.

They have been consulting academics and other groups on the issues surrounding exhibits which include remains and whether they should be on display in museums.

We're asking the public what is the most respectful and appropriate way to display them
Nick Merriman,
director of Manchester Museum

Nick Merriman, director of Manchester Museum, said: "We're responding to a significant minority of our visitors who question the public value and educational value of unwrapped mummies.

"We're asking the public what is the most respectful and appropriate way to display them. It's good practice rather than political correctness."

He said negative comments from the public had focused on the display of the unwrapped child mummy.

Mr Merriman added: "Is it appropriate to display them this way, given that they were originally wrapped, but then unwrapped in the 19th century to satisfy scientific and public curiosity? It's all part of the debate.

But he admitted: "The majority of the comments have been that we shouldn't cover them up."

The mummy Asru is a woman who died aged about 60. She suffered from arthritis and a parasitic bladder infection, according to the museum's records.

The Museum has more than 1,700 items of human remains, ranging from objects made of human bone to complete human mummies, featuring in a number of different collections.

The museum's current Lindow Man exhibition has been designed to ensure that anyone who does not actually want to see the 2,000-year-old body can bypass the remains.


SEE ALSO
Iron Age man's remains on display
19 Apr 08 |  Manchester
Doubt over museum mummy displays
15 Feb 08 |  Manchester

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