I have always been drawn to the exquisite beauty of all that is Ancient Egypt. I took an Egyptology course at University College while teaching at Bryant & Stratton back in the ’80s to answer a student who questioned why and how Egyptian fashion was selected as the first chapter in the costume history textbook.
The answer lies in art, because all of our history to do with ancient cultures comes not from the written word, but from pictures – in this case hieroglyphics, tomb murals and, of course jewelry, as well as the remnants of clothing made of linen fiber.
I learned that Napoleon’s French army invaded Egypt in 1798. They rediscovered the antiquities and were the first archeologists to investigate the area. It wasn’t the painstaking attention to delicate detail that it is today or even remotely a respectful handling of human remains.
Many mummies were burned as fuel for steam engines, which is just so tragic. Later on, in the following century, Egypt became an exotic vacation spot for wealthy Americans who enjoyed purchasing the baubles, scarab beetle decor, and mummies!
They held mummy unveiling dinner parties back in the States, stuff like that.
Howard Carter uncovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. This significant find catapulted Egyptian archeology in terms of the level of importance, the regard for history and the sheer magic in attaining this priceless treasure.
Somewhere in the middle, during the Victorian age, Cazenovia Public Library benefactor Robert James Hubbard and his son accumulated a collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts including an intricately wrapped-in-linen mummy for the purpose of creating a museum.
And so, yes, there is a mummy in this library.
Yesterday, Janine and I visited Cazenovia, New York; first stop, Cazenovia Artisans, second, Common Grounds and next, to the library to see this exhibit. We ended up at Empire Farm Brewery for lunch. Janine had never been to any of these spots nor had she an idea this breathtaking collection even existed. So, my thought is that not many of you know about it. You’re welcome!
When I taught elementary art at Bridgeport Elementary School in our district, I decided to add a few lessons on Ancient Egypt culture to the third grade curriculum, because I had this knowledge I wanted to share. I created a cat mummy sculpture lesson. Naturally, no pets were harmed. Students’ sculptures were made of an armature of plastic bottles and styrofoam balls. They were void of remains, unlike the actual cat mummy at this museum.
At Chittenango, it is the sixth graders who study the ancient civilizations in Social Studies. They do take a field trip to Cazenovia Library, as the village is adjacent to our school district via Route 13. I highly recommend a visit. It is free and really quite extraordinary.
The library is located at 100 Albany Street, Cazenovia, New York 13035. It is open Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 – 5:00 pm. They are closed on Sundays. Call (315) 655-9322 for more information.
The museum space is also home to a gallery for rotating local artist/art organization exhibitions, as well as a wonderful exhibit of birds and plumage in fashion. They also have many interesting activities for children including puzzle clubs and such. Yesterday they had a hot chocolate and cookie station available. Set in a Victorian mansion, this is truly a quaint and lovely experience that really packs a secret chamber punch. So special! <3