Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt

The term culture is one that can be defined
in many ways. Culture is defined as: the ideas, activities, and ways
of behaving that are special to a country, people, or region. Museums
such as the Field Museum attempt to give its visitors a sense of the culture
and history of different countries, as well as a sense of US culture and
history. In this quest however, museums often focus on one specific
nature of the culture [of a country] and lose sight of the whole picture
- the entire culture. After all, the US culture is primarily a capitalistic
one, and museums - in addition to their quest to educate the American public
- overemphasize what they feel is the most intriguing aspect of a specific
culture. In this manner, museum officials are looking to attract
more people and consequently bring in more money. Capitalistically
speaking, it is in their best interest to overstress the parts of an exhibit
to which the public will be attracted. In doing so, however, the
museum visitor does not get an objective view of the culture of a country.

The Field Museum\'s approach to Ancient Egyptian culture attempts to cover
all bases of the culture, but falls seriously short of doing just this.

The Museum focuses too much on the Ancient Egyptian approach to death and
the afterlife in a serious, informative aspect. This is done by the
sheer location of the exhibit, providing numerous historical plaques, and
by the mysterious, alluring atmosphere of the pyramid exhibit that the

Museum gives to the visitor. Yet the Museum downplays the daily life
of the Ancient Egyptians by pushing this less intriguing exhibit behind
the afterlife exhibit, by providing few informative historical plaques,
and by filling the exhibit with cartoons of the everyday life of the Ancient

Egyptian, thereby simplifying the exhibit. Therefore, although the

Ancient Egypt exhibit preserves a good sense of the preparation of death
and afterlife aspect of the ancient Egyptian culture, it lacks in providing
such a sound exhibit for the daily life of the ancient Egyptians, thereby
portraying a false impression of Egyptian culture to the public.

Located on the first floor of the museum,
the Ancient Egyptian exhibit attracts visitors immediately; the ominous
immense pyramid creates a dark, mysterious presence, and invites visitors
to step inside. The first impression of the exhibit is of a focus
on death and the afterlife. This may lead to the false impression
that the Ancient Egyptian culture was driven around embalming and entombing
dead bodies. As one makes its way through the labyrinth of the pyramid,
one is surrounded by recovered organ jars, tombs, mummified Egyptians and
the artifacts that they were buried with. The walls of the pyramid
are authentic limestone taken from actual sites in Egypt. Large woven
tapestries hang from one of such walls and describe the afterlife and the
gods involved. Gods are all represented as having animal heads, and
bodies of humans. Wooden cases that would be placed inside the immense
stone tombs, stand upright and are open for public viewing: hieroglyphics
on the inside of the wooden encasing describe the procedure of the afterlife
for the person entombed inside. The pyramid houses many mummies,
some of whose wrappings have come undone and allow the visitor to see the
actual body of the mummy. The pyramid is a very captivating exhibit,
and it\'s location - its proximity to the entrance of the museum creates
a false sense of the Ancient Egyptian culture. A visitor who knows
nothing about the culture is lead to assume that the majority of Egyptian
life was used to prepare for the after life.

At the end of the pyramid, the visitor
is lead to a small exhibit whose purpose is to portray a sense of the daily
life of the ancient Egyptian. The location of this exhibit, behind
the pyramid, gives the impression of being a less important and less frequent
aspect of Egyptian culture. The visitor is lead through a less cramped
exhibit of the every day live of an ancient Egyptian. There is a
display in which one can "envision himself as an Egyptian": the visitor
can put his face up to a pane of glass, behind which is a model of an Egyptian
face. The visitor is shown how he would look as a typical ancient

Egyptian. This exhibit, while interesting and entertaining, has very
little to do with every day life of the ancient Egyptian. Through out the
exhibit, there are few artifacts, and even less information on the daily
events of an ancient Egyptian. Two to