A Day at the Berkshire Musuem
Mummified in the Berkshires
As the heat wave continued, the boys and I packed it all up for a full day at The Berkshire Museum, including a performance of The Mummy’s Tale and Other Stories from the Great Beyond. My youngest child is four years old so I was unsure he’d be able to sit through a play. I was even a little nervous that he might be scared of the mummy, or more likely of the house lights going dark. It turned out there was nothing to fear and so much to enjoy. Ancient myths are comics full larger than life characters – the very good, the ever so bad, all saviors, helpers, hopeless causes. Because of this, the boys just ate them up. They jeered at bad guys and cheered for happy endings. We all danced and laughed along with the young cast who came out after the show to thank the audience and gave the little kids high-fives and big smiles.
After the show, we wandered downstairs for Chow Time at the aquarium, which is held each Saturday at 12:30. We watched tortoises crunch salads bigger than their shells, turtles dive for earthworms and geckos go for jumping crickets. After a quick stop at the touch tank to visit with the sea-stars, we headed upstairs.
The current exhibit , Wrapped: The Search for the Essential Mummy, is open through the end of October. It’s an extensive adventure into the forensic science of exploring mummies. The interactive science exhibits were fun, but what my boys truly loved was the art. The performance had sparked their imaginations. We spent the afternoon examining hieroglyphs, tomb art, headdresses and necklaces. If you go, don’t miss the mummified animals – snakes, cats and more, wrapped to spend eternity with their beloved owners, I suppose.
We moved back down stairs where the Berkshire Backyard exhibit showed us how much there will always be more to explore in the amazing Berkshires. The kids and I tested our animal tracking skills – more successfully than ever this time. We flight tested feathers and even examined a working bee hive, which included access via a plexiglass tube through a window, to the actual outside Berkshires!
Just before it was time to go, we had our own excavation in the dinosaur exhibit. Once goggled, the boys dug industriously in the pea stones dumping them in the trenches to uncover their own dinosaur discoveries. Theo insisted on digging for mummies or snake mummies, but kept finding dinosaur bones anyway. He was the smallest most aggravated little excavator around that day. “This is not a mummy! It’s a dinosaur!”
We left the Berkshire Museum with a few corners not yet explored and made note to come back for more adventures in the fall.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4, leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out. She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.
A summer of exploration continues at Berkshire Museum
Special Events and Exhibitions: August through October
As the calendar page turns to August, Berkshire Museum continues at full pace with a host of special programs and events alongside primary attractions like its groundbreaking Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy show, eye-opening and much-loved permanent exhibitions, and a host of exciting contemporary art shows.
Coming up in August is a special talk on August 7 by Maria Mingalone, the Berkshire Museum’s Director of Interpretation, on Modernism in the Berkshires, as well as a reading on August 22 by poet Elizabeth Elliott from her upcoming collection Placate the Jaws, amid the inspiring installation Joe Wheaton & Susan Rodgers: Spatial Relationships (showing in the Museum’s Crane Room through October 11). The series of fun, family-friendly theatrical productions in the Ellen Judith Crane Memorial Auditorium continues with the last chance to catch A Mummy’s Tale and Other Stories From The Great Beyond, presented by BTF Plays! only through July 31. Next up is the perennial favorite The Wizard of Oz, presented by Berkshire Children’s Theater August 5, 6 and 7, followed by the delightfully imaginative The Bremen Town Musicians, presented by the Castle Hill Theatre on Saturdays and Sundays from August 14 through 29. (Full scheduling info below.)
Ongoing through October 31 is Wrapped! Search for the Essential Mummy, created in partnership with the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Wrapped not only explores actual mummies, but Western society’s fascination with ancient Egypt, from the destructive practices of public unrolling to today’s use of CT scans and forensic technologies to get a closer look at these ancient artifacts than ever before. Incredibly, Wrapped includes the first known reunion of a father-and-son pair of Egyptian mummies in U.S. history, “reuniting” Pahat and Shep-en-min after 2,300 years. The fully immersive exhibit includes a vast array of ancient Egyptian artifacts—including three mummies in richly decorated sarcophagi, ancient amulets and funerary artifacts, and even a mummified baby alligator—as well as fascinating, interactive displays that allow the viewer to peer inside the mummies’ wrapping as well as to look face-to-face at scientific reconstructions of the original people behind the mummies.
Also on view through October 31 is companion exhibit Nancy Graves: Journey to North Africa, a selection of the pioneering artist’s camel-inspired work in various media. These are also the last weeks to catch Ven Voisey: Artifact, the thought-provoking multimedia installation that inaugurated the Wider Window Gallery, the Museum’s newest display space. Artifact is on view through August 29.
Oh, I love the photo of them as mummys! What fun things you find!
It was great to read this article. I’ve lived here my whole life and never knew this place existed. “This is not a mummy! It’s a dinosaur!” Ha, priceless.