The MNHN’s mummy collection is composed of 63 complete mummies, of which 33 Egyptian, 23 South-American and 7 of other origins, as well as 52 isolated mummy heads from Egypt and South America, and other body parts.
In the 18th century, mummies and mummy parts were isolated curiosities that were collected for the Jardin du Roi (now the Jardin des Plantes). This was the case, for instance, with the “green hand” from Méry-sur-Oise and the child’s body, presumably Gallo-Roman, from Martres-d’Artières. After the French Revolution, the creation of the MNHN led to more systematic collections that were enriched by numerous donors, including Mariette for Egypt.
A research team at the Anthropology laboratory is specifically devoted to the study of mummies. Using techniques like 3D scanning, palaeogenetics and many others, they analyse and identify the health of the individuals who were mummified. A platform dedicated to the conservation of the collection also lends its expertise to the restoration of a number of pieces from outside institutions. The mummies are stored in a climate-controlled space. For reasons of conservation and ethics, they are rarely displayed in public.