Updated October 26, 2021
If Richmond, Indiana, seems an unlikely place to get a peek at ancient Egypt, think again.
How the two ended up in Indiana goes back to an era when artifacts from distant cultures were collected as rarities and – in the case of Richmond’s mummies – as educational tools.
The mummy at Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History was purchased from a Cairo government museum by Earlham President J.J. Mills in 1889. It was added to the collection started by Moore (Mills’ predecessor as president of the college) and has been on display pretty much ever since.
A lot of museum visitors are parents and grandparents who have come to show the mummy to the next generation.
In contrast, the WCHM mummy might be one of the most documented in the region. That’s thanks in large part to Bonnie McClelland Sampsell, Ph.D., a Richmond native who began studying Egyptology in retirement and has led research efforts on the mummy since 2006 and made annual visits to help make changes to the exhibit.
It’s obvious that people interested in Egypt and students learning about it in school should come see the mummy, who has been given the name Men-ka-ef (“His Soul Remains”) but everyone is welcome, you'll be surprised how interesting this piece of history is.
The most amazing thing about these two mummies is that they are here to be seen, half a world and 3,000 years away from ancient Egypt.
Come take a peek.