Light at the end of the tunnel……?

As an avid user of social media, I have been slightly dismayed this week by a number of my friends posting Christmas cartoons and captions. Much as I love the festive season, I can’t help feeling slightly perturbed by the speed at which it is approaching! This brings to mind another saying I came across recently which seems to hold more truth the longer I spend in academic research – ‘When you realise that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train’! I frequently think this motto should be emblazoned across the whiteboard in the office!

September marks the anniversary of our Leverhulme award funding and the time at which a progress report is due to the Trust justifying how money has been spent and what exactly has been achieved over the past year. Whilst writing the report yesterday, I realised that we have actually achieved a lot. The Bio Bank database has grown to 797 from just shy of 600, with a further 150 mummies waiting to be added when time allows (probably early 2015). We have conducted one imaging session with a further two planned for October and two for Spring 2015. We have grown our ‘flock’ of experimental mummies to 10, thanks to donated cadavers from the NHM and friends and family who have collected all manner of critters for the greater good. All in all, we’ve done well.

Perhaps the biggest achievement is the progress that has been made towards our exhibition. When we started the grant, preliminary discussions with the director of Manchester Museum were positive and we knew that if we managed to find funding, the exhibition would go ahead, in some form at least. What we are now faced with is the first touring Manchester exhibition and the first in the world to focus exclusively on votive animal mummies and their scientific study. Incorporating mummies and associated material from over 18 UK collections, this is proving to be no mean feat! Almost a year to the day that I’m writing this, we will be standing at the preview evening for ‘Gifts for the Gods – animal mummies in ancient Egypt’, hopefully smiling at what we have managed to achieve.

This brings me on to why Christmas seems so daunting this year. The exhibition preview evening will be something of a double-edged sword as we will also launch our book on the same day. Seeing our work in print and on sale to the amassed crowd in the Museum shop will no doubt be quite something for everyone who has contributed text and images, and helped to support the project since it started. In order for the book to be released in time, everything has to be with the publisher by New Year’s Day (ha ha). On that note, better get back to it!

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