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Secrets of the Afterlife Exhibition at Western Australian Museum

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
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The beliefs and concepts of life and death in ancient Egypt
Almost nothing exercises the mind of every thinking person as the thought of what happens after the body dies.

Secrets of the Afterlife, WA Museum
Lid of the anthropoid wooden coffin of Besenmut, Priest of Montu at Thebes, 26th Dynasty, Thebes, painted wood (detail) (c) The Trustees of the British Museum


It was ever thus throughout history and how each civilisation dealt with the question has a huge impact on how we understand their thinking.

The ancient Egyptians felt the preservation of the body was of paramount importance and hence we have a huge amount of information about their vision of their hopes and fears about what lay beyond death and how ritual and magic were believed to enable them to pass through the dangers of the supernatural realm.

Secrets of the Afterlife, WA Museum
Book of the dead of Nestanebtasheru Greenfield Papyrus (c) The Trustees of the British Museum


The British Museum has put together an exhibition called Secrets of the Afterlife: Magic, Mummies and Immortality in Ancient Egypt it is an exhibition that will immerse viewers in a realm beyond the threshold of death.

The exhibition is curated by the Western Australian Museum uniquely available to Western Australians as it will be exhibited nowhere else in Australia.

Secrets of the Afterlife, WA Museum
WA Museum, Perth


Precious artefacts, thousands of years old, will be on display and include intricately decorated coffins, two mummies and a gilded mummy mask – with the oldest artefact being a 4,500 year old model of a set of tools used in 'Opening the Mouth' ceremonies during the funerary process.

Secrets of the Afterlife offers a unique chance to see mummies, gilded masks, painted coffins, amulets and jewellery of the highest artistic quality. Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to see the actual texts of the magical spells and prayers which the Egyptians regarded as the key to eternal life.

Secrets of the Afterlife, WA Museum
Cartonnage mummy-mask, 1st century BCE - 1st century CE, Egypt (c) The Trustees of the British Museum


These include copies of the Book of the Dead and the Book of Caverns, written on papyrus rolls and mummy-bandages and illustrated with vivid pictures of the gods and demons that every Egyptian expected to meet in the hereafter.

This spellbinding exhibition will be on display at the WA Museum – Perth from 17 May to 22 September, 2013. Cost is $20 per adult and $15 for concession, with various prices for groups.

Tickets are available on line.
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Why? A glimpse into the Egyptian mystique of death
When: 9:30am to 12:30pm & 12:30pm to 5:00pm
Phone: 1300 134 081
Where: Western Australian Museum, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge, WA
Cost: Adults $20, Concession $15, kids under 5 - free
Your Comment
Went to PM session today, paid my admission for entry and tickets not checked at entry to exhibit, children running around madly, photos being taken when ever and wherever liked, not at all curated well. Why bother paying to go to a fantastic exhibit when I'm bumped, stood in front of and could hardly hear myself think from out of control children and adults with no respect to other viewers?! Pull your socks up WA museum!!
by fos20 (score: 0|8) 2611 days ago
Our party of four adults and seven children went to this exhibition on Friday.It was marvelous.Midweek is much quieter than weekend and if you choose the 11:30 slot you avoid some of the more boisterous school groups.We try to be tolerant of other Museum users and teach our children to do likewise.However I would much rather see children enthusiastic and engaged in living history than tied up with some computer game.Sadly children do not have the monopoly on bad manners.Excellent review,fascinating exhibition of the sort of quality I have long associated with the British Museum.
by Suzch (score: 0|8) 2583 days ago
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