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"Paint the Eyes Softer" Exhibition

The Block Museum of Art and the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University delve into the art and science of ancient artifacts in the upcoming exhibition “Paint the Eyes Softer: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt,” opening Jan. 13 and running through April 22, 2018. The exhibition brings to the Block Museum a series of mummy portraits produced in Egypt during the Roman period, a young girl mummy with an intact portrait and other archeological finds from the Fayum region. Images courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Regents of the University of California.

View the "Paint the Eyes Softer" Exhibition images and captions


Hibbard Mummy

Housed permanently at the Styberg Library at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on Northwestern University's Evanston campus, the Hibbard mummy is currently on loan to Northwestern's Block Museum of Art for an exhibition entitled “Paint the Eyes Softer: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt.” The Hibbard mummy (also known as Hawara Portrait Mummy No. 4) is a portrait mummy of a young girl, approximately 5 years old. Lydia Beekman Hibbard received the Hibbard mummy in gratitude for her financial support of Sir Flinders Petrie’s excavations in a Roman cemetery in Hawara, Egypt, in 1911. She donated the mummy to Western Theological Seminary of Chicago in 1912 to be included in the Hibbard Egyptian Library. Western Theological Seminary then merged with Seabury Divinity School to become Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. In 2009, when Seabury-Western sold their buildings and property to Northwestern University, Garrett-Evangelical purchased Seabury-Western’s library collection, including the Hibbard mummy.


Northwestern Materials Science and Classics/Humanities Class

In fall of 2017, Northwestern undergraduate student researchers, under the guidance of instructors Marc Walton and Taco Terpstra, scientifically analyze a Roman-Egyptian period portrait mummy to collect data that will aid in the historical inquiry and contextualize its meaning in preparation for its exhibition at the Block Museum of Art, beginning in January. Images courtesy Block Museum of Art.


Argonne National Laboratory Experiment

On Nov. 27, 2017, Stuart R. Stock, research professor of cell and molecular biology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, worked with Argonne National Laboratory technicians to conduct the first X-ray scattering experiment on a human mummy. The high-energy synchrotron X-rays produced by Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source probed inside the mummy to help identify materials and objects, while leaving the mummy and her wrappings intact. Photo credit Jim Prisching.


Northwestern Memorial Hospital CT Scan

Prior to its Nov. 27 trip to Argonne National Laboratory, the mummy had a CT scan at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in August 2017. The scan gave researchers a 3-D map of the structure, revealing opaque areas meriting a closer look with the synchrotron experiment at Argonne. The CT scan also enabled them to confirm the girl is 5 years old (give or take nine months). Images courtesy of Northwestern University.


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