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A 17th-century interpreation of the ancient Egyptian mummification process (from P. Pomet’s ‘A compleat history of druggs,’ via Wellcome Trust) (click to enlarge)

Sum of the Arts is a periodic tabulation of numbers floating around the art world and beyond. For this Halloween week, we present a special edition on the mummies of the museum world and elsewhere beyond the tomb. 

  • Number of tubes of mummy brown paint Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones buried when he discovered the pigment was made from ground-up mummies = 1
  • Number of scientists at any time devoted to maintaining the mummified corpse of Vladimir Lenin, which is still on public view in Moscow’s Red Square = 5–6
  • Number of genetic relatives of the 5,300-year-old “Ötzi the Iceman,” whose mummified body is in Italy’s South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, identified in 2013 = 19
  • Percentage of Egyptian animal mummies scanned at the Manchester Museum and the University of Manchester revealed to be nothing but bundles of cloth with no bones inside = 33
  • Years the Brooklyn Museum’s Egyptian mummy “Hor” from the 22nd Dynasty was misidentified as a woman = 70
  • Number of Egyptian mummies at the British Museum, most of which are held in a vault deep in the institution = >100
  • Lot number of the mummy auctioned in an 1892 short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the first to declare a “Pharaoh’s curse” in connection to the excavation of King Tut’s tomb causing a frenzy of panicked people to ship their ancient Egyptian items to the British Museum and investigations into the safety of American museum mummies = 249
  • Number of people in Melbourne who attended an 1893 mummy unwrapping, a popular 19th-century past-time = 700
  • Year that both Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch viewed a Peruvian mummy in Paris, now at the Musée de l’Homme, which may have inspired the howling expression of Munch’s “The Scream” = 1889
  • Number of animals mummified by the ancient Egyptians, many later excavated and dispersed to museums around the world = 70,000,000

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...