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Team of Experts Begin to Unravel the Mystery of Mummy Bundles Currently on Display at “Mummies of the World: The Exhibition”

September 6, 2017

Saint Lukes Health System CT Scans Two Mummy Bundles that have Fascinated and Puzzled Generations of Kansas Citians          

Kansas City (Sept. 6, 2017): Two mummy bundles, on loan from the Kansas City Museum and currently on display in Mummies of the World: The Exhibition at Union Station, arrived early this morning at Saint Luke’s Hospital where, for the very first time they underwent a CT Scan. Officials at Union Station and experts at Saint Luke’s Hospital anticipate information gained through these scans will provide insight regarding their history. Very little has been known about the mummies since they first arrived in Kansas City in 1921.

Unlike Egyptian mummies, these South American mummies were placed in seated positions. To maintain the pose of the body, more common examples were secured within a wrapping of cloth and sometimes leather.  In the case of Kansas City’s mummies, the remains were protected inside elaborately woven baskets.  Because of this outer basket, until today, it has been very difficult to see the actual mummy inside.

The CT scan done today at Saint Luke’s Hospital will allow researchers -- a team comprised of members of Saint Luke’s Health System, the HORUS Group, Union Station, Kansas City Museum, and Exhibitions International -- to get a 3D glimpse inside the bundles through non-invasive, modern technology. 

“We are so fortunate to have such a tremendously qualified team at Saint Luke’s hospital, including Dr. Randall Thompson who can add value to the ongoing research being done on the mummies in this exhibition,” George Guastello, Union Station president and CEO, said.  “They will help us unravel the mysteries of these mummy bundles, which haven’t been seen by the public in nearly 60 years.  Little was known about them then, and that hasn’t changed, until now.”

Dr. Randall Thompson, renowned cardiologist and internationally recognized mummy research expert, intends to lead the team from around the globe in applying modern science in order to help reveal the mystery of who these individuals were, where and how they lived, their overall circumstances of health and ultimately their likely cause of death.

“Studying ancient mummies is like opening a window into a world long gone,” Dr. Thompson, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute cardiologist, said.  “The application of modern science – in this case CT scanning – now allows a unique view to reveal details previously not possible.  This morning we took the first step to unlock the mummy bundle secrets and over the next few weeks we’ll be diving deep into the 3D images taken today.  We’ll not only be looking at the actual mummies, but also studying other possible artifacts hidden within the intricate burial baskets that currently shield our view.  These journeys of discovery are absolutely fascinating on so many levels.”

The two mummy bundles arrived in Kansas City in 1921, obtained by one of the Kansas City Museum’s first board members, R. Bryson Jones.  Jones acquired the mummy bundles during a trip to La Paz, Bolivia. According to an early Museum artifact interpretation and general understandings of ancient Inca civilization, the mummies originated in old Peru and could be as old as 2,000 years or as young as 500. Regardless, in Inca tradition, the deceased were preserved through a combination of intentional and natural mummification. 

The mummies were on display between 1940 and 1960 at the Kansas City Museum, where they were a reliable guest favorite. They haven’t been seen by the public since, until they became part of the national touring exhibition, Mummies of the World, now on display at Union Station Kansas City, where guests can see more than 35 real mummies, 150 related artifacts and these two mummy bundles through the end of the year.

“The storyline and intrigue behind these mummies is fascinating,” John Norman, President of Exhibitions International, said.  “Being responsible for the Mummies of the World tour and having the opportunity to work with such esteemed local partners to reveal the history behind the mummy bundles adds to many incredible stories from around the world in this exhibition.  We are excited to be working with Union Station, Saint Luke’s Health System, the HORUS Group, and Kansas City Museum to reveal this research to the local, national and international community.”

The mummies are currently on loan to the exhibition through the Kansas City Museum. 

“These mummies still hold tremendous mysteries and we’re excited to have them revealed during their time as part of this fascinating exhibition,” Denise Morrison, Kansas City Museum Director of Collections and Curatorial Services, said.  “As it goes, every mummy has a story to tell.  And everyone loves a great story, filled with unexpected twists, turns and science-based revelations.”

Computer tomography (CT) machines produce stunning 3D images.  As late as the 1970s, examination of a mummy meant destroying it by unwrapping the body and performing an autopsy. 

“Not only does imaging change the way we research mummies, but the development of 3D printers has created yet another way to study them,” Dr. Thompson, said.  “Every time we study a mummy, there’s a chance we’ll reveal new chapters in our collective history.  The mummies tell the story, we simply interpret them . . . and in this case, plan to share them with a fascinated Kansas City and world-wide audience.”

Mummies of the World: The Exhibition is currently featured in the Bank of America Gallery at Union Station and is open daily for public visits thru January 1, 2018.  Individual and group tickets are available, with prices starting at $12.95* for Union Station Members and $10* for students in school groups.

 Visit unionstation.org/mummies for complete details and exhibition descriptions. *Excludes taxes and fees.

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Union Station Kansas City -- a 501(c)3 non-profit organization -- is a 103-year-old historical landmark and celebrated civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. The organization -- dedicated to science education, celebration of community and preservation of history -- is home to Kansas City’s internationally-awarded Science City; the new Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium; the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre; the popular Model Railroad Experience; H&R Block City Stage featuring live theater, and a selection of unique shops and restaurants. Union Station is also home to prominent area civic organizations and businesses, and regularly hosts world-class touring exhibitions. Awarded “Top Banquet Facilities in KC” by KC Business Journal, the facility regularly hosts community events and private celebrations of all sizes. Visit www.unionstation.org for details. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Kansas City Museum - Located at 3218 Gladstone Boulevard in the Historic Northeast community of Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas City Museum is comprised of five original buildings, including the mansion Corinthian Hall, which was built in 1910 by Robert Alexander Long. The estate became a public museum in 1940. It is owned by the City of Kansas City, Missouri and operated and managed by the City of Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department. The Collection contains more than 100,000 artifacts and several thousand more archival materials that interpret Kansas City’s local and regional history. The Kansas City Museum Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to develop initiatives, convene leaders, and mobilize resources through inclusive partnerships to support the mission, vision, values, and strategic priorities of the Kansas City Museum.

Exhibitions International - previously Arts and Exhibitions International, the world’s preeminent museum exhibition producer, was founded in 2003 by John Norman. Under Norman’s direction, the company was entrusted with the most valuable treasures on earth and at sea, including artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun (King Tut), relics from Cleopatra’s Royal Palace, Princess Diana’s Royal Wedding Gown, and the only authenticated pirate treasure in the world. These riches are the heart and soul of breathtaking museum experiences created by EI. Each unforgettable experience has mesmerized audiences at the finest art, science, and history museums in the world. More than 30 million people have attended Exhibitions International's exhibitions since its inception in 2003. 

Saint Luke’s Health System - Saint Luke’s Health System consists of 10 area hospitals and campuses as well as multiple primary and specialty care practices, and provides a range of inpatient, outpatient, and home care services. Founded as a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, our mission includes a commitment to the highest levels of excellence in health care and the advancement of medical research and education. The health system is an aligned organization in which the physicians and hospitals assume responsibility for enhancing the physical, mental, and spiritual health of people in the metropolitan Kansas City area and the surrounding region.

Union Station Contact: Michael Tritt
O: 816-460-2278    MTritt@UnionStation.org


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