Egypt on the Nile: The New Life of The Carnegie Boat

Waiting for people to come and take the survey.


Egypt on the Nile: The New Life of The Carnegie Boat

Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Fall 2017

Finally, working in Walton Hall in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, my childhood dream has come true! I would be administering audience evaluations during my curatorial internship.  As I asked people to participate in my survey about the funerary boat I heard many interesting stories. Explaining the new ideas being proposed to show the boat in a different light really excited the people I was talking with, which in turn excited me even more about the exhibit. Talking about the boat’s 'lives' for the new exhibit is already bringing a new life into this forgotten treasure. 

Walton Hall is on the third floor of the museum. Across the hall is the Alcoa Hall of American Indians. Walton Hall is a hidden gem, hiding on the 3rd floor. When you walk in you are immersed into the ancient world. Immediately to your right is the Carnegie Boat. Making your way through the exhibit you see objects from the reign of Senwosret III to the mysterious reign of Akhenaten, and further on. Of course, we have examples one of the most popular type of objects of any Egyptian exhibit, mummies! There are cat mummies, mummies that were sold under false pretenses, an actual ancient burial and of course some beautiful sarcophagi finish out the mummy area. A number of people told me about how much they loved the diorama of the temple craftsmen. I have to admit, I love them too. It is great to see a recreation of life in action.

Dr. Erin Peters and her team are planning a digital interpretation of the boat that will showcase its various lives. The lives of the boat would start from the cedars of Lebanon spanning until present times. The idea is to show the importance of the boat and what it meant to the ancient Egyptians that were building it and the use for it in their afterlife. The first five of these lives are proposed to be a more visual aspect of the boat, the last five are proposed to be auditory. Showing the lumber being cut and shipped, the building process, the idea of the use for it the real world, the use in the spiritual world and finally the rediscovery of the boat. I asked visitors how they would enjoy seeing these lives in a visual way, what lives they liked the best out of those five and which if any they felt like might not need to be there. I also asked participants which ways they learned the best (by watching, listening, or physically interacting.) Watching and interacting have been the top responses. Overall my goal was to see how people would react to the idea of a new exhibit that includes digital technology and hands-on interaction. I am pleased to say that people have found this concept very pleasing. They are excited to see the exhibit updated, they are excited to learn more about Ancient Egypt as a topic as whole, and they are excited to be able to get a better grasp of the boat even if it is still behind the glass.

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