mummies, fire alarms, and the MFA

On Memorial Day, we took advantage of the free day at the MFA. After a lovely breakfast of waffles and a homemade blueberry sauce courtesy of Brett and Emily, the four of us hopped on the green line and made our way to the museum.

I was most excited about the Egypt exhibit, which had been extended through June 27 due to popular demand.

Brett and Emily breezed through the exhibit and then headed out to a picnic they'd promised to attend. We, however, took our time. Ian and I are both slow museum people, stopping to read almost everything and take photos (the MFA allows non-flash photography in most exhibits).

from the mfa steps

The Secrets of the Tomb 10A was very engaging, telling the story of the culture and showcasing some amazing art. It's fascinating to see what the culture valued and what they believed. It was all very connected to the physical — a painted door in the sarcophagus allowed the spirit to come and go from it's mummified body, and symbolic food, supplies and servants in the tomb sustained the spirit. Spells written all over the interior of the tomb were oriented so the mummy could read them. I also was intrigued that tomb robbers would burn the tombs behind them — if the body was destroyed, the spirit couldn't come after them in retribution. Even the people who were very concerned about their material lives wanted to cover their bases.

more boats found in tomb 10a
a sarcophagus's painted door for the soul

We avoided spending money at the exhibit's gift shop, but couldn't resist seeing our (last) name in hieroglyphics for only $1.

ian shows off our name in hieroglyphics

We headed downstairs for the cheaper-than-the-ground-floor-cafe cafeteria and enjoyed our food outside in the courtyard. Just as we were finishing up, alarms began to sound and a a security lady ushered everyone through the museum and out to the front drive.

exiting after the fire alarm
the last evacuee
security near the front entrance

We still don't know what happened - no fire trucks showed up at the front entrance (we can't say regarding the back). But they eventually let us back in, and we continued, starting with the Asian galleries and continuing across time and space.

four guardian kings
navigational chart (rebbelith) | unidentified artist
ian and the wall
second floor gallery

The building and galleries are beautiful, and I love that everywhere you turn, you're surrounded by incredible art in every form and culture imaginable. We covered a lot of ground but still only saw a fraction of the museum. Many exhibits change quite often, and they're adding an Art of the Americas wing, which opens November 2010. The 3+ visits we'd have to make for a membership to pay for itself no longer seem like a lot.

Of course, we also can take advantage of the free community days (the next is July 30) and the discounted passes through the Boston Public Library. Paying $5 instead of $20 (i.e. $10 vs. $40 for us) would be worth the pit stop. No library card? Admission on Wednesday evenings after 4 p.m. is by voluntary contribution (suggested $20). If you do pay full price (and maybe even if you don't?), admission includes a free repeat visit within 10 days, making each visit only $10 - and you can feel good about supporting the arts.

The MFA is definitely a museum we'll be visiting again — feel free to join us!

For more photos, click here — and any help identifying some of the artwork is much appreciated!