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Topics / BRIEFLY : Art: Getty Model Aids Mummy Preservation

March 17, 1994

The Getty Conservation Institute's innovative design of a case for maintaining mummies and other fragile organic materials was used as a model recently by an Egyptian museum to restore the Royal Mummies to public view.

The case sustains an environment that stems the erosion of mummies by preventing microbiological activity.

Using the Getty prototype, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in Cairo built nine cases for the Egyptian Museum that employ a nitrogen atmosphere and a system for monitoring temperature, humidity and oxygen levels.

The Egyptian cases were based on the Getty's 1987 prototype, for which scientists used an anonymous mummy dubbed "Lady X" to develop a way to display and store mummies and other fragile organic materials.

After much experimentation, the scientists developed a case in which a nitrogen atmosphere capable of halting microbiological activity could be sustained without mechanical or electrical systems.

The Royal Mummies exhibit opened March 1 at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

"Although the Getty Conservation Institute was not involved in the actual construction or testing of the Egyptian Museum's cases, I am delighted that our research has been instrumental in helping the museum achieve its goal of safeguarding the Royal Mummies," said Miguel Angel Corzo, Getty Conservation Institute director.

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